Networking, Post-Recession Style: Behold, the Truck Party
Kimberly Peterson and her fellow retailers prove old one maxim, literally: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
To beat the recession blues, one Burnsville jewelry-maker has come up with a new concept—the truck party, a kind of Tupperware Party for the 21st century.
On Sept. 21, Kimberly Peterson will host a number of non-traditional businesses at her home, from and up-and-coming occasional shop to a mobile home decor store. All have unique business models, honed by the lean times that have plagued the U.S. economy since 2008.
Peterson is no stranger to hard times herself. Peterson, a former model, and her husband fell on hard times after his mother's health troubles put the family business on hold. Out of hardship, K.Posh Inc. was born. Peterson's K.Posh line revolves around "upcycling," making clothes, hats and other items out of second-hand items. Her signature products are embellished leather cuffs made out of old, repurposed belts and vintage jewelry.
"I'm not making beaucoup bucks,but I feel like it's going to take me somewhere else," Peterson said. "And I enjoy doing it. I sit down to make one and before I know it I've made 10. I've found my Zen."
K.Posh has low overhead, and all of her wares can be fit in the trunk of a car. A similar principle is at work with Uniquely Attainable, a home decor store stashed in a renovated school bus, and the Fashion Mobile, a truck party guest that is the mobile reincarnation of Doozie Chic Boutique, a bricks-and-mortar store that once graced Stillwater.
"We ran (Doozie Chic Boutique) for over two years but unfortunately we had to close it. That was a sad day," wrote Fashion Mobile co-owner David Grim, who runs the retail truck with his wife Teresa. "A lot of people liked the store but we just couldn’t make it work out."
The Grims were inspired by the Twin Cities' burgeoning food truck industry (it is hoped that Burnsville's own mobile food truck, Wicked Palate will also be in attendance on Sept. 21) .
"If you want to start a food sale business it has to be a heck of a lot cheaper to do it in a truck than to actually open a restaurant. I’ve read that it takes anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 to open a food truck compared to $500,000 and more for an actual restaurant space," Grim wrote. "So are fashion trucks on that same path? I think so."
The Truck Party will also feature one of the first occasional shops to open up south of the river, Occasionally Yours, which sells home goods and other items made of recycled materials. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, occasional shops are open only a few days a month. They are a growing trend in the metro area.
The challenged for these businesses is to connect with the buying public, which requires constant networking and hustle. Peterson's party is intended to bring businesses and buyers together in a relaxed, fun environment.
"It's all at one spot. You can network with friends and companies—leave your card, take a card," Peterson said. "There's no pressure and you're not sitting in a room full of people you don't know."
"It's a cool concept and it doesn't cost me hardly anything," Peterson added.
The shindig will take place at the Peterson's home at 805 Lacota Lane in Burnsville. It runs from 6 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Want to join in? Contact Peterson and RSVP. The truck party is an adults-only event.