Most business owners with a mobile operation dream of one day opening a brick-and-mortar store.
Lea Williams set her sights on the exact opposite. She closed her Got Candy & More storefront in downtown Lakeland and is starting fresh in a 1974 Kurbmaster Junior.
After seven years of running the storefront, she’ll now operate her business out of the converted food truck. The truck will sell the same kind of items she sold in the store, including cakes, cupcakes, hand pies, ice cream, cookies and other sweet treats.
The food truck, Williams tells Coffee Talk, has been in her plans for a while. She purchased it five years ago, knowing she would want to run a food truck in the future. Originally, she wanted to operate both the truck and a storefront but decided to focus on the truck. “There’s a lot more flexibility for me as a business owner,” she says.
Williams, who makes the items she sells, is planning to travel to parks, events, markets and weddings with the truck. “One of the things that prompted me to do it is I can go to the customer,” she says. “I can go to a location and be convenient for them. If one of my locations isn’t great, all I have to do is move the truck.”
Another consideration? Lower operational costs. “You’re not looking at a square-footage cost for rent and electric,” she says. With a truck, the focus is on labor and materials.
There are some challenges to consider, though. “In a truck, you kind of have to look at it a little bit differently,” she says. Williams says she had to ask herself, “How many sizes of beverages do I actually want to serve?”
Her first food truck destination is Swan Brewing, a Lakeland craft brewery she’ll visit April 22. She’s already filling up her schedule of events, partly through referrals and word of mouth from people who know her from her brick-and-mortar store. Williams says, “It’s really all about the relationships we build with people. I love my customers.” With the food truck, she says, “I’ll still get to see them.”