Along my journeys in life I have met many food vendors who do not have a physical restaurant yet manage to earn their livelihood from selling food. They peddle their food products on the streets and even directly go to the houses and offices of their long time customers. Each one uses a type of vehicle to assist them in selling their products on the road.
This is the simplest type of food selling on the road. The food vendor simply puts her food products in a large bag and then proceeds to travel to the location of their customers. This is not an easy or convenient thing to do. The bags are usually heavy and because of the large volume of food inside the bag or basket bulks up. Vendors have a hard time carrying the heavy bags.
This is however the least troublesome method to do if the vendor has no vehicle and is only commuting. The bags may have bulked up but most vendors would have perfected by now the technique of using the right enough size for a bag that would enable them to carry the maximum load that they can carry while still fitting in public transport.
Mostly seen in developing countries and not much in first world countries are street vendors carrying baskets to sell in the streets. They mainly walk and from time to time advertise their food products by shouting the name of their food products and sometimes their price. I have seen not only food sold this way but also big items such as furnitures.
If I was selling food this way I would have made advertisements even in sheets of paper selling my product. I would have worn a cap not only to protect me from heat but also to advertise my products. I would also wear clothes or a vest that would advertise my product. I would even put one on my bag especially if the food is hidden and no one can see my product.
I could also record a short advertisement for my food product in my mobile phone that I can use to substitute for me when I get tired of shouting my advertisements. This simple techniques would help my customers become aware of my food products even though I might not be advertising them.
When I was in school I had an enterprising schoolmate who would sell imported chocolates and candies given to him by his travelling father. Imported candies were luxury items for children then and he always sold out his chocolates and candies. His father was a businessperson and I think I know where he got his business mindset from even at an early age.
Even my own niece sold at her school foods she cooked herself. She sold foods that were profitable for their size and weight. I also have a coworker who sold candies and delicacies he bought from a vacation destination. People always need food and if you study your customers enough even food sold from a bag or basket would sell.
A step up from food bag/basket business is the food trolley business. This is already serious selling as trolleys can become bulky depending on size and cannot fit in most transport vehicles if they are larger than a suitcase. That is why there are many food trolleys especially sized to be as large as suitcases so they would fit in public transport.
Food Trolleys have the advantage of being large enough to display large sized advertisements and also to be accessorised with umbrellas to insulate the vendor from the heat of the sun. Food trolleys come in all sizes from suitcase sized ones to those that can carry small boxes. Food trolleys are especially ideal for those who do not have much strength in carrying heavy bags.
I have a schoolmate of mine that sold snacks first in a large bag and then later on used a trolley to transport the box of food products he was selling. He even became savvy with selling that he put the name of the product in the box as well as the price. He positioned himself on the school hallway and people upon seeing the sign mostly bought from him.
He overextended and sold too much food that he lost money but quickly learned and sold just enough food. He also listened to his customers and only sold food that they were requesting. It became a regular income for him that he set an example for other students to also setup their own food trolley business.
Besides the income this could be a good training for would be businessmen while they are still at school. I would even go as far as advocating that this become a requirement in business school. I even have a regular vendor who makes her living selling food from her trolley. Food trolleys like food bags/baskets are good if you are selling food that are small and light but can still be profitably sold even in small quantities.
Many people are aware of food carts. Food carts can be difficult to handle because they are uncomfortable to carry especially when they are well stocked with food which makes them heavy and unwieldy. They are mostly pushed and positioned into certain places and once positioned stays there for a long time even an entire day.
I have seen many of them both personally and online. Because of their relatively large size they allow food preparation facilities as well. For example ice cream vendors would have ice or refrigeration units in their cart while hotdog, popcorn, corn and similar food products would have cooking equipments in their cart.
One thing I notice however both from actual observation and from online images of food cart vendors is that there are many of them who do not use umbrellas and foldable chairs. These are not big investments but can be of great help to vendors. Umbrellas shield vendors from the sun and even rain while foldable chairs help them relax when they are not moving their carts. If they use chairs I mostly see non-foldable ones which takes up space in their carts.
They are more mobile than food carts but carry smaller volume of food products. A vendor can easily travel from place to place with it. You can accessorise it with an umbrella as well. I have also seen vendors who carry food preparation equipments in their food bicycle. However one of the disadvantages of a food bicycle is that it needs space for a bicycle assembly.
Side, front or back mounted bicycle assemblies can take up a lot of space and may not be good if you are selling in narrow areas like laneways. If you also have weak foot muscle you might find it manageable to pedal in smooth surfaces but might find it impossible to pedal across rough and elevated surfaces.
One thing good about the food trolley, cart and bicycle business is that you do not spend anything on fuel for your vehicle and they are also easy to repair unlike motorised vehicles. However these manual food vehicles require you to be physically fit because you would be pushing heavy vehicles in sometimes rough surfaces.
A step higher to manual food vehicles would be motorised food vehicles starting with the motorcycle food cart. You now have the convenience of not having to manual push or pedal your food vehicle. You can get to your selling spot faster with little difficulty. However all these convenience comes with a price.
Motors do breakdown and once they breakdown they may be hard to repair especially if you are not trained to repair motor vehicles. Make sure you get decent training on how to repair a motor vehicle especially in cases where you have no one to turn to for help. You should also carry spare parts and repair tools everytime for insurance against breakdowns.
The trunk of your car is a valuable space in your car which is usually left empty and results in wasted space. For example when I was in Australia where there are many migrants from different countries I would see a few enterprising migrants sell food products that are distinctly from their origin countries.
Migrants from a certain country of origin would usually attract each other because they have the same culture and appearance. This enables the enterprising ones to use these connections to sell products to their fellow migrants of the same country. This is not unique to migrants only as I have seen locals doing the same selling out of parking lots, vacant lots, on the streets and so on.
I have even rode on a taxi in the Philippines which sells dried food. The enterprising driver of the taxi has a small sign on the dashboard of the taxi which informs passengers that he sells dried fish. He even voluntarily informed me that he sells them out of the trunk of his taxi at night.
This could be a good side business for you even if you are working in an office or a factory. I used to have a coworker who owns a movie rental business (before the age of video streaming) besides working for a company. Before the working day ends he would advertise the movies he has for rent and takes orders. The day after he brings the ordered movie tapes (CDs, DVDs in the present future) and before starting work would also show his car trunk full of movie tapes.
He does this during lunchtime as well as before leaving work. He always manages to rent out more movie tapes than what were originally ordered. Other workers from other companies are also his clients yet he sells only out of the company parking lot. Imagine if you apply this to a food business where you sell employees food at all times of the day.
You can sell breakfast to employees who have not taken their breakfast. You can sell them food during lunch and even at snack time. At the end of the day you could even sell dinner food to employees who do not want to cook for dinner anymore because they are either tired or are living on their own that they prefer just buying food.
It also helps if you have a captive market. I have worked in several companies in Australia and a few of them are so isolated from dining facilities like restaurants that you have to walk at least half an hour to get to one. There were even no vending machines for such simple food items such as sodas and candies in these companies. An enterprising individual could have sold these simple foods in their car trunks!
The most expensive option of all for food vehicles. The food truck alone is worth a big investment. According to restaurantmba.com approximately 60% of food truck businesses fail within three (3) years of opening. If you are not careful you might not only lose your capital but be in deep debt.
A good way to gauge whether a food truck business is good for you is to Google such keywords as ”pros and cons of a food truck which would present a lot of articles that discuss the advantages and disadvantages of owning one. For example there are articles that discuss the different laws on food trucks from state to state as well as the upfront preparations needed before you can start one.
If you noticed this article eased you in on the different vehicles that you can use to sell food from the least to most complex. For example manual food vehicles can be operated by even very young people who want to be entrepreneurs. Motorised vehicles require legal permits from the law such as a driver’s license and even a business permit.
It is evident though that you can sell food even at an early age and still make good income from it. You could go serious about this business and progress from selling food out of your bag/basket towards a full food truck. You can even go as far as opening a brick and mortar restaurant. It is important though that you master the technique of selling food even at a young age.