Mobile businesses may not be ideal for the North Dakota climate, but The Scarlet Gypsy Traveling Boutique is having great success.
When Therissa Heit was looking for something different to do, she happened to see an idea in Lucky Magazine. “It was a piece on the first fashion truck in Orange County,” she said. “Of course they have nice weather all year out there, and I did wonder how it would work in the winter (in North Dakota). Eventually I decided I wanted to do it and told my husband, Tom, to trust me, it was going to be great.”
They bought a truck, her husband did some work on the inside, she did some painting and then got the artwork completed on the exterior. Heit found some vendors she liked, took a few webinars from the ladies who started that first fashion truck and in May of 2013 she was ready to roll.
Of course, it wasn’t as easy as pulling up to a busy street corner and people pouring in to buy her wares. “The first year I made a lot of phone calls – explaining what my business was, checking to see what the laws are and getting my name out there,” said Heit. “I had to let people know I’m not a party bus, selling tacos or telling fortunes. I have gotten pretty well know around Bismarck, but when I go out of town, it is fun to explain it all over again.”
She also checks the weather often. “If it gets a little chilly I have a space heater and I put out hot chocolate and apple cider,” she said. “I have an air conditioner for when it is too hot. Once the snow hits I park it. I do a lot of online sales during that time.”
She posts new products on her facebook and instagram pages as well as her website. Last winter she rented a storefront at Kirkwood Mall and this year she will be in the lobby of URL Radio in downtown Bismarck, 322 East Broadway from November 1st through the holidays.
Heit receives new items every week. Her inventory includes women’s clothing from small to 3X, jewelry, hats and purses. “My clothing is pretty trendy and I like to order things I would wear. If everyone has it, I will move on to the next thing. I try to have styles that are a little ahead of their time for Bismarck, something unusual.
Heit lets people know where she will be pulling up next mainly by word of mouth and social media. She keeps track of county fairs and small town events around the area. She likes to stay within a 120 mile radius and in North Dakota because she knows what the laws are.
While a mobile truck business may have its own set of challenges, like having to replace the engine her first year in business, she is really glad she took the plunge. “I like that it is different, people are excited about it,” said Heit. “I like that I don’t have to sit and wait for people. And, I hope more people will get involved and we can have mobile truck events where we all pull up to a central location.”
The Scarlet Gypsy Traveling Boutique is available for private parties, baby and bridal showers, or a girls night out event. She also does charity events, where a certain percentage of her sales go to a specific organization.
Heit offers some tips on what is new for fall: fringe, leather accents, tribal prints, chunky knits, slouchy beanies, ankle booties, plaid everything and small delicate jewelry. Last holiday season customers sought out her super soft printed and fleece leggings, chunky knit scarves and boot socks.
To find out where the truck will be next, visit her website at scarletgypsy.com, or find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @thescarletgypsy.