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The Web-Enabled Food Vendor

Starting a Mobile Food Stand as a Solution to Unemployment

by Barb Fitzgerald


As retirement looms many aging baby boomers worry about their future. Inadequate retirement savings, inadequate health insurance, and an active lifestyle are the most common reasons more than 49% of retirement age people either want, or need to keep working. At the same time many older workers are now being forced into early retirement when they are unable to replace their job lost to downsizing, out-sourcing, or the current recession. Unfortunately, as we age, remaining employed can become more difficult. Many employers believe older employees are less valuable due to age bias, higher medical costs, and an inability to stay current with rapidly evolving trends and technologies.



Luckily, many older workers and retirees have found a solution. They've joined the growing number of "nouveau-entrepreneurs" who are becoming professional food concessionaires-selling food from food stands or food booths at fairs, festivals, and special events.


The recent gain in popularity of the mobile food service business amongst frustrated job seekers has occurred for good reason. With the national average unemployment rate stalled at over nine percent many people are abandoning their job search and turning instead to self-employment. Now, energetic and imaginative entrepreneurs who are weary of prolonged joblessness are opening food stands, trucks, and concessions in record numbers- many with great success. Due, in part, to wide-spread media coverage and cable TV shows, such as "Food Truck Nation" the food concession business has gained status with entrepreneurs and their customers, and is no longer considered the misfit of small businesses as it once was.


Though a bona fide business, the food concession business is unlike most other forms of self-employment. Concessionaires work part time, travel, work in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and most importantly, can customize their business to the level of earnings and involvement they desire. The unique possibility of making a relatively large amount of money in a short period of time, a moderate investment of time and capital, and the ambiguity of a cash business with minimal licensing requirements, are some of the unique benefits that make the concession business accessible and attractive to people who otherwise would not consider self employment.


However, starting a food concession business is not as simple as it may first appear. There is a dirge of start-up information resources to help guide the newcomer past the start-up obstacles. Additionally, veteran concessionaires are inherently reticent about sharing information that might encourage others to enter the field. As a result, the typical outcome for most new concessionaires is failure. Most novice concessionaires must learn the business gradually during the critical period when they are also competing against experienced vendors for events, booth space, and customers.


Nonetheless, it's not surprising that even without the benefit of due diligence many people are inspired to move forward with a concession for the many unique benefits the business offers. In fact, according to the US General Accounting Office the two most frequently stated reasons people give for seeking self-employment are a desire to be one's own boss and to have more personal freedom. Now, during this difficult job market I would add a third, and possibly the most important reason: the need for an income. With a food concession business, satisfying these three important desires is just the tip of the snow cone.

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Barb FitzgeraldAuthor Barb Fitzgerald has more than twenty-five years of experience in the food concession industry. She additionally held a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and founded Northwest Vendor's Network Association. Her dedicated passion for the concession business makes her a leading authority on this unique mode of self-employment. For details about her best-selling book: Food Booth, The Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, go to:





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