Less Is More

As retail shifts and changes in the 21st century, many brick and mortars are considering new forms of retail, including mobile storefronts housed in the clunky cousins of food trucks. And some retailers, like Asheville’s Hazel Twenty, aren’t growing into mobile units, but out of them.
What once was a Fed Ex Truck

The mobile boutique, housed in a cheerfully teal box van and filled with trendy women’s fashions, is owned and operated by Lexi DiYeso, a longtime veteran of the retail world. “I have worked in retail for most of my life, starting in a sporting goods store when I was in high school,” she explains. “In college at the University of South Carolina on a soccer scholarship, I majored in the College of Retail, Fashion Merchandising.

Like so many modern female entrepreneurs, DiYeso’s enterprise was inspired by her desire to balance motherhood and a career. With three young boys under her wing, DiYeso began looking for ways to stay home and make money, and alighted on an Ebay business selling clothes. Four years later, she took the next step. “I stumbled on the mobile retail concept and was instantly hooked and couldn’t get started fast enough!”
The advantages of mobile retail for an entrepreneur like DiYeso are innumerable. “I found the mobile concept to be an innovative (and less expensive way) to test out whether my vision of owning a retail store was viable. Plus it’s super fun!” Whereas brick and mortars come with a perpetually high overhead, a venture like Hazel Twenty only necessitates one big investment and then simple maintenance.
The flexibility that comes with a mobile boutique is also invaluable to the mom, and not just because it allows her an adaptable schedule. Unlike a traditional retailer, every day is different. “I target different customers every time I am open,” she points out. “I have partnered with many businesses around town, offered many private (think home party) parties, worked many of Asheville’s festivals and festivals outside of Asheville. I can open up for a customer on a private shop experience and offer online sales as well. I love the flexibility that comes with being mobile.”
Inside Hazel Twenty’s Mobile Store

The small size of the shop offers other surprising advantages, too. “Because the blueprint in the truck is much smaller than an actual brick and mortar, I can buy a smaller, more curated inventory and replenish with different, fresh looks more often. I also make sure to have multiple different price points stocked at any given time,” says the storeowner. The limited inventory and small space come with other benefits too: merchandise never has a chance to get stale, because it’s constantly changing, and it also offers the customer a unique experience of feeling like they’ve purchased a one-of-a-kind product.

One might expect the lack of a reliable brick and mortar to pose a marketing challenging—how do customers know where to find you?—but DiYeso has solved that case, as well. She relies on social media marketing to alert her fans to Hazel Twenty’s location and to showcase the new styles. She also partners with local businesses to reach new markets. “Each time we partner with other local businesses, we always gain new followers with cross promotion. Asheville is a pretty close-knit community, so there is always opportunity to network and get involved and target new bookings!”

Perhaps best of all? Hazel Twenty has proved to DiYeso that she’s on the right path and that she’s ready for an investment in a brick and mortar. She plans to open a shop within the next four months, “while continuing to share our offerings in our cute little green truck!”

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