|Posted by Lilly on July 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM|
From the beginning of this Italian Ice business idea, I knew I would need a custom cart. Unlike those few lucky people whose Health Departments don't require a handsink, mine did. Additionally, they insisted it be an onboard sink. So it dawned on me that I would not be able to buy anything quickly, as it would have to be built, but also that I'd have to figure out some way to get this cart around from venue to venue that was different than the Little Jimmy's videos had shown me how to do.
My cart doesn't fit in my SUV. I don't own a pickup. I can't have a trailer in my parking lot - it's against the rules, and I have no garage. Needless to say, I've run almost the entire gamut on ideas for how to get this cart not only home from my manufacturer, but around town in general as I sell. If you've been contemplating the same things, let me share what I've learned and some of the options for toting a 300 - 500 lb pushcart.
Landscape Trailer or Cargo Trailer
The tried-and-true method for getting a pushcart around. Almost every vendor has gone this route at one time or another. Purchase a trailer, hook it to your car/truck's hitch, load your trailer, tie it down and off you go. This option likely requires registering the trailer with your DOT/DMV and insuring it, not to mention storage requirements of the trailer during the off season, if applicable to your region. The enclosed unit has the added benefit of protecting your cart from road dirt, debris and damage while moving.
Car Hitch Carrier
For those who don't want to tow a trailer for one reason or another, there's this option. A carrier with ramp gets attached to your truck's or heavy duty SUV's hitch (must be able to hold 350-500 lb. tongue weight). Use the ramp to load your pushcart. Secure the ramp and the cart. And, again, off you go. The carrier, though you need to check with your DOT/DMV, usually does not require registering or insuring as its an extension of your car or truck. And the unit can be folded up when not in use, or removed. This was my favorite choice, until I learned my SUV couldn't carry the weight of my pushcart. The ramp and hitch were fine to transport it, but my car's suspension would have needed to be raised.
Pickup Truck Bed
For those of you who have a large enough pickup, all you need is a ramp, and off you go. If you're working alone and would like to maintain your spine in useable condition, I would add a winch to the end of the pickup that can be connected to a tie-down mechanism on the underside of your cart. The winch, whether connected to your car battery, run off a 12-volt battery, or a cordless unit (see Cool Products page), will pull the cart up the ramp for you.
Inside Dedicated Cargo Truck
This has become my newest favorite idea, but I just can't justify the cost of it so late in the season when I'm still not operational. But it's looking like the best choice for next year. A dedicated cargo van for your pushcart relieves so many problems and offers a vast array of options for selling your Italian Ice - think delivery, conversion to mobile scooping unit, and a respite from hot and/or wet weather, to name a few. A really cool choice is the new Ford Transit Connect, which holds a surprising amount of payload. But I'm looking at buying Nissan's new NV2500 with a high roof, that like the Ford, lets me stand up completely while loading and working inside the van and gives me tons of storage for Italian Ice vending accessories (tent, coolers, umbrella). But the Nissan, being larger, can accomodate my cart and can have seats added for my kids or future employees. Even better, this option allows for me to wrap the truck in my business graphics and advertise 24/7 in one of the best-touted advertising methods available. Currently, Nissan is offering FREE partial vehicle wrapping if you buy one of these!
Tow Behind Unit
One of the most innovative ideas I encountered too late is the convenient pushcart/trailer combo. Allow me to explain the amazing feature of this cart. It is a pushcart that rides on its own trailer. But the trailer hitch connection can be removed, so that without it, it works and looks like a pushcart easily moved by the push bar. When selling's over, simply reconnect the hitch accessory to the cart and the cart to your vehicle, and you're good to go. No ramp, no tie downs, no large trailer, no new truck. All you need is a hitch receiver. This is the BEST of all options, in my opinion, and the ideal solution to transporting your cart. Until you grow and have more than one cart, of course. But that's a great problem for another day. And yes, it will need to be registered and insured, but at least the insurance is something you'd probably carry on the cart anyway. Sold by All Star Carts. I'm sure other manufacturers can create this design for you, as well as customize it to suit your needs.
Photo Credit: All Star Carts
Recently, a site member told me yet another idea that I will likely go with this year, for the few remaining months I can sell. Get a towing light kit added to my car and rent a UHaul trailer as needed. The cost of the trailer rental is only $16 per day! That's a price that can't be beat and can easily be covered by a day's sales.
So what's your ideal solution? And if you have an idea not listed, I'd love to hear it!