Like many of my adventures, this story starts out with a spark of inspiration. My friend and fellow show vendor Stephanie with Hope Raiser had recently put out a plea for her faithful followers to be on the look out for a truck/van/bus – something she could turn into a mobile store sharing her inspirational fashion line and encouraging story with others at events. I myself shared a couple of ones I had seen for sale with her. A few days passed and she shared that she was looking at a van that someone had been using as a mobile art gallery. And that’s when it hit me. What if I bought a truck and turned into a mobile way to show off TYPOGRFX? I was well aware that food trucks are making a big come back and that fashion trucks were picking up on the trend as well. I quickly shrugged it off as a crazy idea telling myself I have enough going on without adding a truck into the mix.

The next morning I settled into my usual office routine – checking my emails and of course my facebook. About three posts down from the top of my newsfeed was a 1979 Chevy Step Van for sale in nearby Excelsior Springs for just $1500. I thought to myself, “What are the odds? Is this a sign?” I shared the link with Stephanie and jokingly told her that if she didn’t buy it, that I would have to. She assured me that she had already committed to the mobile gallery van.

junkvan

 

I wondered how would a truck fit into my overall business and marketing strategy? What did it have to do with my brand – telling people’s stories with the custom artwork I create? Part of me didn’t care, I just liked the idea of having something new to focus on (that’s the “squirrel!” side of me). But the practical side realized that this would be a BIG project to take on – one that not only could eat up a ton of money, but one that I would ultimately have to figure out how to make work. Stephanie pointed out many reasons that this could be the right thing for me. “You can build out your booth inside for outdoor events and then have easy access to items for indoor events. No more loading and unloading and storing things at home. Plus others can drive it to outdoor events and sell for you,” she explained. It all made perfect sense to me, and it was becoming clearer and clearer that this was a good idea. Further research into the growing mobile shop trend proved that every reason why I had to NOT open up a traditional retail shop was solved with a mobile shop.

Reason: I don’t want to be tied to set hours at a shop, and one of my biggest pet peeves of mom and pop shops are inconsistent hours.
Truck: I can be open when I want AND where I want.

Reason: Cost! Renting a space would mean a lease, probably for a minimum amount of time. Plus, I might be limited in what I could do with the space as far as paint, signage, etc. Utilities and insurance would all add up. And what if it didn’t work out?
Truck: For a few month’s rent cost, I would actually OWN the truck. I could finish it out however I want to and could make it fit my brand. And if it doesn’t work out, sell it. Step vans are very in demand right now.

Reason: It would scare me to be reliant upon people coming to me.
Truck: With the truck, I go where the people are – festivals, street fairs, concerts, wherever I can pull up, park, and open up the doors to welcome people inside to see my artwork. I had stopped going to outdoor events two years ago after a couple of traumatic weather incidences. A truck would be easier to set up and protected from the elements.

My mind was made up.

After a couple messages with the owner of the van, I decided it was at least worth going to look at. After all, it was right on the way to Waterfest that we were already heading to that afternoon. Jackson was not amused when I mentioned that we should go look at it. It didn’t take more than 2 minutes of walking around the truck to realize that it was a lost cause – no matter how cheap it was. Rust everywhere. Bad tires. Cracked windshield. And it didn’t run. I left feeling disappointed, but somewhat relieved. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

After we got back home that night, it was Ryker’s turn to pick what we watched on TV. Of course he chose some obnoxious kid’s show, so I found myself doing a quick search on Craigslist for “step van” on my phone. One of the listings sounded promising. 1982 Chevy P20 Step Van – 71,000 miles; good tires; runs good. Pictures showed a navy truck with the cute white “Chevrolet” logo across the front grill. I was sold. The next day I texted the number asking a bunch of questions about rust, condition, location, etc. Everything sounded too good to be true.

van_craigslist

Since it was a rare Sunday afternoon that we didn’t have anything going on, I casually mentioned to Jackson that we should go look at it. He gave me his “Are you kidding me look?” and brushed me off thinking I wasn’t serious. I quickly made it clear that I had every intention of going and that I needed him to go with me to check out the mechanical side of things (and for safety of course!). I promised that if this wasn’t the “right one” that we didn’t have to look at any more trucks for the rest of the month (keep in mind it was the 28th).

Jackson said, “Are you sure this isn’t another one of your harebrained ideas?” I quipped, “Of course it is!”

Then I proceeded to spout off every reason that I could think of. He shook his head, but agreed to go so we loaded up and headed off to the city. Pulling into the driveway, you would have thought we were in the country. Overgrow weeds sprouted up between the piles of junk and broken lawn ornaments littered the yard. Cats dashed out from under one car to another. What was left of an old tractor sat buried in the brush. And right there in front of me was the truck. I looked around for someone and heard a noise from the open garage door behind the truck. I poked my head around the side to find a greasy old guy sitting in a chair working on a kid’s bike. I said I was there to look at the truck and without a word, he handed me the keys.

A quick once-over proved promising. Everything outside looked decent and the inside, although dirty, had potential, so I went to get Jackson who had decided that sitting in the car was a better use of his time. He quietly went about inspecting everything mechanical about the truck. After talking with the owner for a few, we learned that the truck had been previously used by the Kansas City Police Department on SWAT missions. Jackson said that was a good thing, since they would have taken care of all of the maintenance on it. I asked him, “So what do you think?” and he nodded to me with his approval. I wanted so badly to just squeal with delight and tell the owner “YES! I want this truck!” But I also didn’t want to jump the gun, so I told him that I would have to do some research, but that I was VERY interested in the truck. He informed me that two more people were coming to look at it the next day, and so I said I would get back with him that night.

We pulled out of the driveway and I immediately hounded Jackson, “Was it worth the money? Was it a piece of junk? What would you do?!” I asked. His simple answer was, “You ain’t going to find one in better shape for the money” which to me was a resounding “Yes, you should buy it!” So I pulled over and said, “Ok, let’s go to the bank to get the money.” Then he reminded me that it was Sunday. Think. Think, Tosha. Think! My mind raced. Debit card! I could use my debit card to get money out of the ATM. Wait, do I even have a debit card? I’m sure I do, but is it in my new purse since I condensed down and no longer carry a wallet? No, it wasn’t. Ok, we’ll go home for now, but I will let the guy know that I for sure want the truck, and then we’ll go get it tomorrow. Easy enough, right? Wrong.

The guy who was very personable and Chatty McChatterson when we were there suddenly decided to play hard ball. He refused to hold the truck for me until the next day, even if I came back and gave him a good-faith deposit. He insisted he would simply sell the truck to the first person to show up with the cash. No checks. No money orders. End of story. In a panic, I started scrambling to come up with cash. Between Jackson and myself we didn’t have near enough on hand, so I grabbed my debit card and raced to town to the nearest ATM. Not having any clue what my ATM limit was, I first tried to withdraw $2000. Denied. Then I tried $500. Denied. Ok, how about $400. Success! So I figured, maybe I could draw out $400 at a time until I had enough. Nope – not happening. Feeling defeated I went back home and decided again

… if it’s meant to be, it will happen!

I texted the guy and told him that we would be there to pick it up around 3pm with cash in hand. He said he would let me know if it was still available before we headed that direction. The next few hours d-r-u-g–o-n–a-n-d–o-n. Finally, it was time to head that way, and he said it was still there. By now, I was irritated with all of the back and forth drama of selling it to someone else, so I went in with the attitude of no more Mrs. Nice Girl. I have the cash. You have the truck. Let’s get this deal done with. I couldn’t have been more relieved when Jackson pulled the truck out of the driveway and we headed for home!

Jackson putting gas in the truck as we headed for home.

Jackson putting gas in the truck as we headed for home.

 

To be continued…..