Vancouver retailers hit the road in mobile trucks

What started out as a long-running joke for Hilary Atleo turned into reality with Iron Dog Books, her mobile bookstore based in Vancouver.

When Atleo, a long-time bookstore worker, and her husband moved to Vancouver, she had hopes of opening a used bookstore in their neighbourhood.

But when Vancouver’s booming real estate market made affordable brick-and-mortar locations hard to come by, it seemed like they would have to set aside their plans — until inspiration struck.

Atleo started thinking about running a bookshop out of a mobile container truck.

“I said to my husband, what if this stopped being a funny thing and started to be an actual business?” Atleo told CTV Vancouver.

Atleo said that many places in Vancouver are “book deserts,” with little access to book stores or libraries without a car.

The mobile book truck is a way to get past those barriers, by bringing the books to people.

“Our mantra is books should be affordable and available,” Atleo said.

Her mobile book store launched in November, 2017, and has had a strong response from the community.

“People really fall in love,” Atleo said. “I think we reach out to some level of magic and imagination inside people that a lot of conventional retail can’t reach.”

With lower overhead costs than traditional retail, retail trucks are an idea that’s been picking up steam in Vancouver.

Megan Currie’s Vancouver Fashion Truck is also among a growing group of retailers taking to the road to reach their customers in a new way.

A former manager of a women’s boutique, Currie wanted to open up her own store, but felt that she needed to do something to differentiate herself.

“The landscape of retail and shopping is just changing,” Currie said. “You can’t just open a brick-and-mortar and expect to be successful anymore.”

With a small collection of clothing curated by Currie, the truck travels to markets and special events and sells to women one-on-one.

“People like coming in for the intimate experience,” Currie said. “And they know…they see – this is the girl I’m supporting.”