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Becoming a Street Food Vendor

Did you enjoy selling lemonade or snacks as a kid? Perhaps you should run your own food vending business. Working from a cart on the street, you do not need much money to get started, and it can prove to be a very profitable part-day, good-weather, or year round business for you, whether you sell snack time hot dogs and pretzels or hot weather soda and ice cream.

Begin by addressing the local ordinances that cover your business. You will probably need both a street vendorís permit and a license for handling and selling food. Understand the qualifications for all licenses that you need, including the rules governing renewals. Also, find out if any periodic inspections are required.

Success depends on location: you must be in a spot where hungry people will pass by with the urge to grab a hot dog, or whatever else you serve. Local laws and regulations may restrict where you can place your cart and your hours of operation. Unless you're selling a brand name, you'll want to be found in the same location in order to build loyalty, so scout out a good location before you start and understand whether spots can be reserved or are on a "first come, first served" basis. Also, if you are working alone, it will be helpful to be near other vendors who can watch your cart in case you need to make a quick trip away. Also, consider where you will put your cart at the end of the day. If you plan to tow it home, figure out where you'll leave you car so that you can quickly get it to the cart.

Your inventory will be a big issue. You want to order in bulk to get the best price, so you must be able to store several daysí supply of perishable food in accordance with health regulations. Then, you must bring an adequate amount with you so that you do not disappoint customers by running out; however, bringing too much means extra work hauling it back and forth and increasing the risk of spoilage. It can be very handy to have a supplier, partner, or friend who can bring you replenishments when needed.

Finally, think through the need for insurance, general business guidance, and tax advice. And, like any business, you need to get your product into the consumers' hands. Give plenty of thought to pricing, promotion, and your sales pitch.

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