5 Vendors Taking Peddle To The Metal

There’s no doubt that food trucks are having a moment — in fact, they're still hanging on pretty strong. Sometimes, though, the options are dizzying: Korean tacos? Falafel? Bacon? So many decisions. But, we caught wind of five mobile setups that are anything but overwhelming, resetting the pace of the pop-up-on-wheels surge. Forget waiting in a 30-minute line for truffle tater tots; these individuals are bringing artisanal shopping and more right to your door.
Whether vintage relics by Half Hitch Goods suit your fancy or a mobile photo booth is more your speed, the rad trucks ahead are breathing new life into the trend. And, we chased down the folks behind the wheel to get the scoop about why they hit the open road. So, get revved up — these entrepreneurial folks are taking us into overdrive.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Name: Rebekah Northway
Truck: The Petaler

Tell us more about your truck.
"The Petaler is a San Francisco-based floral-design company that services weekly accounts, special events, and an occasional sidewalk bouquet sale. The truck, Tucker, is a vehicle that helps The Petaler team to facilitate the daily workload. Tucker is a 1984 AMG truck. Tucker joined The Petaler Team in 2012 after a previous career with the postal service and as the dairy-delivery truck for a farm."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What made you take your business mobile?
"The very nature of my business is mobile. The truck simply helps me transport my product and designs."

What do you love most about having a shop/business on wheels?
"Though the truck is not a traditional business on wheels, I love the idea of having a mobile work space that has the capacity to be multifunctional."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What are some of the challenges?
"Tucker is an antique, and with that comes a variety of daily challenges."

What are some things we can expect to see from you in the coming months?
"You can always see my work at Nopa, State Bird Provisions, Francis, Range, Bar Tartine, Zuni, and Sightglass Coffee."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Name: Carrie Caillouette
Truck: Half Hitch Goods

Tell us more about your truck.
"The Half Hitch Goods Rolling Shoppe is a rare 1985 Canadian VW Volkswagen Vanagon Transporter 'Doka.' Rumor has it Volkswagen did not send this model to the U.S. due to a large tariff on 'light trucks' imported into the U.S. from Europe. This embargo lasted 48 years and was put into place to protect U.S. auto manufacturers' domestic business for trucks. I came to own my Doka by way of a trade with a man who wanted my old 1968 single cab VW Bus. When I got my hands on the Doka, my husband and I drove it around for a year taking road trips to discover amazing and unique treasures and meet some of our artist partners, shooting their work spaces for our blog and co-designing special collaborations just for our customers. Last fall, we had the truck outfitted with a set of custom aluminum and walnut shelves, storage, and a canvas canopy so we could put her to work as our Rolling Shoppe by December. And, the rest is history."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What made you take your business mobile?
"The Half Hitch Goods online shop launched last year and was really gaining momentum. And, with our boutique focusing on gifts and goods with stories, we were craving face-to-face interactions with customers. I wanted to talk to folks about our products to really educate them about building connections between people through gifts grounded in stories and meaning. Even though online retail has come a long way in the past 10 years, customers still want to touch and feel products and have in-person sales interactions, especially when the products boast fine quality. The build-out of the Rolling Shoppe seemed like the obvious next step with the business to figure out where our customer is, who they are, how they shop, and hear feedback on products without committing to a lease right away."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What do you love most about having a shop/business on wheels?
"I love the fact that we can move where the customers are and own a store when we want to, but we also have the flexibility to travel and focus our efforts online at times. We love concentrating our time on the truck mainly to weekends and times and places where folks have an appetite for shopping and browsing, so we can be most productive with our sales."

What are some things we can expect to see from you in the coming months?
"I have the following events coming up: Georgette Crimson trunk show at Proxy in Hayes Valley on April 27; a TBD Memorial Day event, likely in Napa on May 24 to 26; Bluxome St. Winery Meet Market on May 31; and a Father's Day event at Proof Lab in Mill Valley showcasing a special selection of leather goods for dads on June 14 and 15."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Name: Kate Stoddard and John Pearson
Truck: Das Bus

Tell us more about your truck.
"Das Bus is a mobile photo booth within our glorious 1959 red-and-white Volkswagen bus — with a supersweet rack. We converted the back of the bus into a photo booth by installing hardwood floors, moving the long back seat to face the rear, and installing a DSLR camera/touch screen/printer within a hardwood face. We have a generator to power all the equipment, so we are totally, completely mobile. Costume trunk included, of course."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What do you love most about having a shop/business on wheels?
"The ability to set up our operation literally anywhere we can park the bus is invaluable. We can do weddings on top of mountains, housewarming parties on a busy street in Oakland, corporate parties in the city outside of a bar or winery, or even camping trips with friends in Point Reyes or Big Sur — literally ANYWHERE!"
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What made you take your business mobile?
"Mobile commerce in the Bay Area has absolutely exploded. This is a very fast-paced community where people are constantly innovating and creating new reasons to gather, new places to eat and celebrate a cause or a business venture. We want to be a part of this scene and move with it. We were particularly inspired by the food-truck movement in recent years and the idea that we could drive to where the customers are and not have to wait for them to come to us. It's a renegade vibe that resonates well with us and the VW bus, too."

What are some of the challenges?
"We are operating out of a bus, not a box, so indoor events can be challenging if there are no loading docks or large openings to get into the building. We're definitely prepared to get creative if venues are game!"

What are some things we can expect to see from you in the coming months?
"We definitely want to make Das Bus more interactive within the community. We've been talking about a 'photobomb' campaign, where a couple nights a month people can tweet at @DasBus1959 and we'll come to your house party or bar and set up the operation for an hour. Or, even just showing up to different parks or shows unannounced. Just keeping everyone on their toes!"
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Names: Ben, Lina, and Charlie Gulick
Truck: Juice Shop

Tell us more about your truck.
"When we first bought the truck, we were told it was a 1967 Dodge P400. But, after we got it looked at and had some work done, the mechanic at Crown Customs told us it is more likely a 1955. When we got her, she had a large, hand-painted sign that read 'Narney.' The name stuck. Narney was originally used as a newspaper-delivery vehicle in Pennsylvania, then as the mobile shop of a canvas painter in Southwest Florida. She is only one of 50 ever made. Her small, customized size was adjusted for easy loading of newspapers into local neighborhood shops, which makes her perfect as a juice shop on wheels."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What made you take your business mobile?
"When we were looking for an outlet for a second brick-and-mortar-shop location, we had the idea to combine the food-truck craze with something we love and are somewhat obsessed with: vintage trucks and motorcycles. Taking our business mobile was a way to reach more clientele and have an excuse to have some fun with a beautiful, old truck. We now have five locations total, but Narney is definitely a favorite among many of our customers."

What are some of the challenges?
"One of the challenges was taking this old truck and modernizing it a little bit. It required some new installations and some fabrication. Another challenge was trying to keep as much of the body and truck intact to keep that nostalgic look."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What are some things we can expect to see from you in the coming months?
"In the upcoming months, we do have some exciting changes. Our truck is currently located in Hayes Valley's Proxy Project (at Hayes and Octavia streets), but soon we are getting a Juice Shop container installed there, which will leave Narney free to roam again. We've been looking at alternative spaces to plop her down. So, if anybody has any great ideas, please share!"
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Name: Christina Battle
Truck: TopShelf

Tell us more about your truck.
"TopShelf began in 2012 as San Francisco’s first-ever fashion truck. Appearing at music festivals, block parties, and private and corporate events, we have been bringing the store to the people. It has since evolved from truck to storefront and will be coming soon online! We deliver the best curated blend of stylish, unique, classic, and bohemian women’s fashions, all at wallet-friendly prices, while exceeding our consumers' expectations in personalized service, styling, and loyalty programs."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What made you take your business mobile?
"The mobile part of this business started out of creativity. In a city with rising rents both commercial and residential, it was necessary to find a way to break into the market without breaking the bank! Not to say mobile retail doesn't have its own set of costs and struggles — it does. But, it has been a great way to grab more attention, get amazing press, and begin to make my brand known while testing different markets all over the Bay Area."

What makes your truck so unique/different from others?
"The TopShelf truck is unique because, for one, it was the first of its kind in S.F. It is the largest fashion truck measuring 24 feet. Its customizations include hardwood floors, copper racks, custom-designed fixtures, vintage wallpaper, crown molding, ceiling tiles, dressing room, full LED inside lighting, and a surround-sound stereo system! On the exterior, its branding and artwork is all hand-painted by a Bay Area muralist. The TopShelf style in clothing is quite different from other trucks as well, being a little more on the trendy and hip side."
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What are some of the challenges?
"There are many. People seem to have this romantic idea about mobile businesses — that we just open our doors anywhere, and the customers pile in. It's not like that at all. It takes a ton of planning, begging, convincing, bargaining, and persistence to run this type of business. It's kinda like running an event company, retail store, and entertainment business all in one. It's tough to find the right events that you fit in with, and there still is NOT a proper permitting system with S.F. to allow pop-up street-side vending. This makes running this type of business pretty limited in where it can go. Then there are the vending fees, mechanical problems, breakdowns, damaged goods from travel, and difficulty to find that needle-in-a-haystack employee who is good at sales, fashionable, and willing to drive a 24-foot truck! Ha, if that is you, please contact us!"
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