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> FOOD CART OR FOOD TRAILER?

FOOD CART OR FOOD TRAILER?

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Food carts and trailers are generally much lower in costs and management needs than the average restaurant or fast food building. In a struggling economy, it’s no wonder that street food is such a growing industry.

However, once you look into starting your own mobile food business, you’ll notice that there are a few different starting points available—specifically, there’s a choice between two of the most common and popular types of stations: food carts and food trailers.

So which one will better suit you and your business needs/expectations? Here’s a brief rundown of some of the benefits and setbacks of each:

FOOD CARTS

This form of mobile station is ideal for those seeking inexpensive, low-maintenance space to sell one primary product. Due to their small size, food carts are overall much easier to operate, manage, maintain, transport, and even expand.

Costs for food carts may vary, but overall are the less expensive option compared to food trailers. Typical carts cost around $3K, though you can certainly shop for used carts online for a more affordable price. The amount of supplies and equipment will depend on your product, but will usually cost around $1K or less.

Locations are very open to carts because of the small amount of space they take up. You’ll want to look into possible places where you’ll make good business with your product(s), and there will most likely be plenty room for you and your cart. Permits and rental space for carts will typically cost around $1K, and again will depend on your selected location.

FOOD TRAILERS

This form of mobile station is ideal for those seeking to spend more money on a more roomy workspace.

Like carts, costs for food trailers may vary. A used 12-foot trailer can cost between $3K and $8K, while the newer 16-foot models can cost as little as $16K. Trailers can carry more supplies and equipment than carts, but will consequently come with a higher cost. Depending on your products and the size of the trailer, supplies and equipment can cost a few thousand dollars, which will then later also add to maintenance costs. Like carts, you’ll want to look into possible places where you’ll make good business with your products, and be sure you’re satisfied with that location for long periods of time. Most parking and permit costs for trailers, depending on your location, may total from $400 to $2,000+ per month.

Overall, the decision will be based on your desires and resources. While carts are more convenient in location, costs, and management, trailers provide more of an established space and more options for selling your product. Ultimately, the ideal option will be the one that works best for your specific business needs, as well as what you’re willing to work hard at.

PROTECTING YOUR CHOICE

Whether you choose to run your business from a cart or a food trailer, it’s important to purchase insurance that will protect your business against liability risk. The Food Liability Insurance Program offers insurance designed for food vendors who own either a food cart or a food trailer.

Click here for more information on insuring your food business.

Helpful resources:

Food Trucks 101: How to Start a Mobile Food Business

Mobile Food Vendors

BY LYNDSEY LARSEN

Lyndsey Larsen is the Marketing Manager and writes about business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and insurance.

Lyndsey Larsen is an experienced writer with a background in corporate communications nonprofits, SAAS corporations, and nutraceutical companies. She has previously worked as a journalist for regional and national publications. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing butterflies, rockhounding, and spending time with her two kids in Utah’s mountains or deserts. Find Lyndsey on LinkedIn.

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