Carts and Kiosks

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? No

Carts and kiosks today are upscale--and highly lucrative--ventures. The difference between a cart and a kiosk is that a kiosk is larger, enclosed and has space for you to sit while you work. You can purchase your own cart or kiosk and have it custom-built for your merchandise, or you can rent one from a mall. And you can sell just about anything--from sunglasses to sunflowers, hot dogs to dog figurines, perfumes, personalized coffee mugs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, chocolate chip cookies and cooked-to-order health foods. You can operate your shop at a wide variety of locations--in a mall, at sporting and entertainment events, at flea markets, on busy downtown streets, at tourist promenades, or where workers convene for meals or snacks. The advantages to this business are that it's much less expensive to get into than a traditional retail location, you can start part time if you like, the earning potential is excellent, and if business gets slow at one location you can pick up and move to another. You'll need the stamina to stick to your post for long hours (especially if you'll be outdoors), a good working knowledge of retail operations and a flair for attention-grabbing displays. You should also have an extroverted personality because a large part of cart and kiosk sales is interacting with passersby--making eye contact and offering a smile and perhaps an invitation to examine your wares or sample your treats.

The Market

Who your customers are will depend on your products and location, and the best way to earn their business is by stocking a clean, trendy, eye-catching cart or kiosk; looking clean, enthusiastic and cheerful yourself; and doing the market research to place yourself in the best possible location. Think about where you'll find people who'll want your goods, then case the site at different times over a two-week period to get a feel for traffic flow and customer demographics.

Needed Equipment

You'll need a resale license so you can purchase your products wholesale, and if you'll be serving food, you'll need a permit from your local health department. And if your cart or kiosk will follow behind your vehicle like a trailer, you'll need a license for it. If you'll set up shop in a mall or office building, you'll need to get permission from the mall or building manager. On a street corner, park or event site, you'll need an OK from city, county or event authorities. Your minishop should be equipped with a cash register and adequate display or preparation space (if you're making food) for your products, plus any grills, refrigerators, freezers, steamers or ovens you'll require. You should also stock a stool to give your feet a rest; sales tickets and tags; and boxes, bags and papers for wrapping up merchandise.

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