Food trucks, popular pop-up businesses are gaining traction

These pop-up mobile kitchens entice people into the streets of downtown areas and can be used to entice customers into traditional retail/brick-and-mortar establishments.

Food trucks have exploded in popularity all over Detroit. Photo credit: Andy Northrop l MSU Extension

Food trucks have exploded in popularity all over Detroit. Photo credit: Andy Northrop l MSU Extension

Food trucks, a pop-up business that is essentially a mobile kitchen that traditionally served blue-collar workforces between shifts, have now gained significantly in popularity across a number of demographics. According to the “Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand (2008)”, young adults and parents between the ages of 25 to 34 are the largest consumers from mobile vendors and they spend on average $44 a month!

In addition, the industry is thriving in several cities, such as L.A., New York, Austin and San Francisco, where they utilize websites to track mobile food trucks’ location on any given day. According to Michigan State University Extension, these pop-up mobile kitchens entice people into the streets of downtown areas and can be used to entice customers into traditional retail/brick-and-mortar establishments. this helps to increase business during lunch hours, as well as after work. IBISWorld, Street Vendors in the U.S. (2008) claim street locations/corners have 55 percent of the food truck market whereas construction sites have just 12 percent.

For instance, Portland, Oregon, has seen their downtown revitalized via the mobile food trucks movement in the last decade or two. While attending a three-day EcoDistrict training in Portland earlier this year, I witnessed food trucks being highlighted during a day-tour of the city’s successful economic development and revitalization strategies. This helped to overcome a once struggling city center. The city has numerous Portland food trucks catering to the downtown workforce and surrounding neighborhoods.

Detroit, Michigan is experiencing a similar revival that Portland once experienced with pop-up retail. Food trucks, for example, have exploded all over the city. Roaminghunger.com/det lists a number of food truck vendors in the Detroit area and their hours of operation and locations.

Whether smaller, more rural communities choose to accept these forms of business in their economic plans for the future remains undefined, but one thing for sure is that they are here to stay in larger urban areas. However, some small coastal communities and villages within Michigan’s Thumb are learning from the pop-up trend and are opening opportunity for such businesses during the tourism seasons.

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