Q&A

{Photo: Leela Cyd}
As you can imagine, the bus is a conversation piece that generates a lot of questions. This page is designed for anyone who'd like to know a little bit more about the daily adventure that is Lodekka! In April of 2013, Erin (original owner) blogged about the challenges of opening a shop in a bus in an attempt to address some of the questions I get from aspiring business owners on a regular basis. I recommend reading this post if you're thinking of doing what I'm doing!

When did I get the bus?
Erin purchased it in April of 2010 and spent six months converting it into a store. I bought the business from her in 2015.

Where did you find the bus?
Erin found the bus on Craigslist. She was looking for a food cart or old school bus in which to open a clothing store, but all the vehicles she looked at were just too small. During one of her typical marathon bus-seeking sessions online, she ran across an old beat-up double decker at a used car lot in Springfield, Oregon. Erin took the next day off from work to go check it out. It was in terrible shape, but she immediately saw the potential. Erin bought it on the spot, then went and had a margarita while the gravity of her decision set in. Visit the Lodekka Facebook page to see photos of the makeover. 

When did the shop officially open?
Lodekka opened in October of 2010.

What is the significance of the name "Lodekka"?
The bus is a 1965 Bristol Lodekka. “Lodekka” is a made-up word to indicate that the bus is low to the ground and has a “low deck.” Erin chose the name to pay homage to the bus and its British roots. Erin also gave the bus a name, Guinevere, but her nickname is Ginny. I love this name and decided to keep it!

Do you know the history of the bus?
The bus was built in Bristol, England in 1965 and the bodywork (or coachwork) was built in Lowestoft on the east coast. The bus provided public transportation to the citizens of Liverpool from 1965 to 1982. Shortly thereafter, the bus was purchased by Decathlon Athletic Club in Burnsville, Minnesota. I found out recently that Decathlon was not a typical athletic club: it was a gathering place for hockey players. I bet those hockey players had no idea they were riding in a future dress shop.

Does the bus run? Do you drive it around?
The bus can run, but currently doesn't. All of its parts are in working order, but yours truly evidenced a lack of mechanical prowess by cutting a few important wires during the conversion process. If anyone knows of a good British mechanic looking to do pro bono work, please send them my way.

I don’t drive the bus around. The bus stays parked at Tidbit Food Cart Pod. I like staying in one spot so people always know where to find me!

Where do you find all the stuff you sell?
When it was a vintage shop, I would buy all my items from estate sales, people's homes, and from people who came to the shop. Now that it is a pop-up space, I receive applications and carefully curate each vendor.

What kinds of things do you carry in your shop?
Each vendor is different, but generally I like to carry handmade items. Unique or original art, jewelry, plants, clothing...you name it! Just about anything a maker can dream up and I feel fits in the shop.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to open their own retail cart?
While there are a lot of advantages to running a retail establishment in a cart, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of inherent challenges to doing something that most city regulators are unfamiliar with. The best advice I can give to a potential cart owner is to do a lot of research in their city before getting started. Find out what the city requires of mobile (or vehicular) businesses in terms of a business license, vehicle title/registration, insurance, etc. Also, find out where you can legally park your cart. I found a very helpful ally at the City of Portland who kindly answered all of my questions as I was developing my business. I encourage anyone who wants to open a retail cart to make a friend in their local city planning office, just like I did!

All that said, having a retail cart is really special and unique experience. It's a great way to run a low overhead business, stand out amongst other retailers and interact with fun and interesting people. 

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