Posts tagged ‘small business’
Over the holidays, my wife received an email promotion from Washingtonian magazine for a great new dining experience here in MoCo – the Corned Beef King food truck. Corned beef? One of my favorites. And it just so happened that the King was going to park on Fishers Lane just off Rockville Pike near where I get my car serviced. So just before noon we stopped by to sample the corned beef sandwich.
As advertised, the food truck was parked at the curb and a couple of people were walking away with sizeable portions. As an added bonus, dessert was nearby. Cravin Cookies and Sweets, serving up cupcakes, cookies and other sweet fare, was in an adjacent parking space. So the main course and the dessert were just a few parking spaces apart.
People were coming out of the nearby office buildings for lunch. Several cars drove up, people who had been noticed through Twitter or Facebook to the day’s location. It was cold and rainy, but the food trucks offered people the chance to walk to lunch. Locations change daily so the food trucks can reach a larger audience.
Let me add that the food was terrific.
It was the second time in a week we came across a food truck. On Christmas Eve, walking past Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue toward a restaurant, a papusa food truck was parked at the gas station on the corner and folks were picking up food on the way to the subway or headed home.
It’s great to see access to diverse food extending into areas like Fishers Lane in Twinbrook as well as the downtowns. While some may view the food trucks as a challenge to store-based food providers who pay rent or property taxes, food trucks circulating around the county, generally offering food that’s different from the restaurants, can coexist with stationary businesses.
The food trucks provide opportunities for new entrepreneurs to get established in the food business with smaller amounts of capital. Vendors can earn revenue for their business to grow. In the case of the corned beef truck, it represents a spin-off of an existing business that includes catering. The cupcake truck is run by Valerie and her two daughters. They have two trucks to cover a bigger area.
Like the gentleman selling the nuts beside Veterans Square in downtown Silver Spring we wrote about early last year, welcoming new ideas in food will bring more people onto the streets, where the added activity benefits everyone. And with the growing diversity of the County, we can look forward to new opportunities in mobile food.
Considering the state of the economy, it is a positive sign to see these new businesses starting. As more food trucks get started, there will be a growing need for the providers to network and help each other. For example, Valerie chooses where she will set up by following where the main course is going to be. Simple: she provides dessert after the sandwich.
A good example of small entrepreneurial collaboration is happening in the Long Branch neighborhood. A group of women have created a sewing group called El Rozal de Long Branch. They were most visible at a holiday market held on Saturdays in December at the Flower Avenue Shopping Center in East Silver Spring. The women have banded together to help each other in their craft of sewing, creating new products as well as taking in repair work. They were aided in forming their group by IMPACT Silver Spring. I received a terrific shopping bag in traditional patterns with the sewing group name on the side for Christmas. It will be great in avoiding the new bag tax — which is how the women marketed it at their table.
The sewing club is a model for other start-up groups to consider to bring strength in numbers to their trades. It is also a good example of the emerging business trends in the county, reflecting the changes in our demographics. Since most new businesses are expected to be both minority and women-owned, the County, with its continued growth in immigrants, has a real opportunity to create new businesses and wealth for our residents.
Later this month, we will present ideas on how the changing face of the county will impact County services to the County Council. Our approach to small business is a part of this discussion. Can we help trades create new business networks like El Rozal or a web site for the food trucks to network? Simple ideas, yet a huge leg up for our enterprising residents.
The opportunities are limitless. A growing population of young entrepreneurs and consumers are looking for ways to network and socialize. Cities are promoting food trucks as an attraction. Creating opportunity for new ideas to grow and create synergies between them – as simple as the corned beef truck parked next to the cupcake truck – is an important economic development and cultural amenity that will help our County prosper.
I have talked a lot about what I call the Nine Elements of Sustainability, which outline the elements we should think about in our decision making. These include the following:
My hope is that by bringing these nine elements into our decision making, we will raise awareness of how creating links between them will make our efforts more sustainable. The food trucks and the Long Branch Sewing Circle are good examples of how one activity crosses over many elements of our daily activities.
The cultural aspects of the sewing club are linked to creating economic opportunities for moms working from home. Home occupations allow the mothers to play a bigger role in their children’s lives, such as helping with their education. Assembling the materials they use, like the traditional fabric material used to make my shopping bag, spurs more commerce.
So tomorrow when you are hungry and lunch time approaches, check out where the food trucks are or where your nearest small restaurant might be. Or next Saturday, bundle up and experience the nearest open air neighborhood market. Consider the multiplier effect of the Nine Elements and the opportunities your shopping habits create.
We have a rich mosaic of cultural diversity, and we are better place for it.