How to Start a Kiosk Businessukiosks
Options for starting a cart or kiosk business include opening a permanent location in a mall and leasing a cart; buying a cart to use for outdoor events or on street corners; or renting a cart short-term.
"The least expensive option is to rent [a cart] for a short time and see how it goes," says Bruce Stockberger, owner of Stockberger Marketing Associates, a North Palm Beach, Florida, small-business marketing firm specializing in cart, kiosk and Internet marketing. He says you’ll spend at least $600 per week for rent.
Whether you lease or buy a cart depends on your product and location. In malls, you generally lease a cart from mall management. The cost of leasing depends on the season and mall traffic volume but is usually at least $800 per month for space and a cart, and can get very high in a good location. Some malls charge a percentage of your sales in addition to monthly rent. Wally Rizza, owner of several carts in high-profile locations like the Irvine Spectrum Entertainment Center in Irvine, California, pays more than $2,000 per month for rent on each of his five carts.
"Kiosks start higher than carts, usually $9,000 or $10,000," says Denise Clark, author of From Dogs . . . To Riches: A Step-by-Step Guide to Start & Operate Your Own Mobile Cart Vending Business. Additional start-up costs depend on your merchandise. Items such as jewelry and crystal require a greater investment than, say, hot dogs.
Carts come in many sizes and styles with varying capabilities. There are carts for specific types of food, some with refrigerators, grills, steamers–even small ovens so you can bake on location. Determine your needs before ordering a cart, advises Jeffrey Morris, president of All A Cart Manufacturing Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, a cart design and manufacturing company. "List your products and the equipment required to make or display them," he says. "Also draw a simple layout of the cart to give [the manufacturer] an idea of size requirements."
Think versatility, especially with food. Don’t limit yourself to making one item, in case it doesn’t sell well and you have to switch gears. "What sells might be completely opposite from what you thought," says Gerardo Gonzalez, president of Gonzalez & Associates, a Piscataway, New Jersey, company that consults on mobile merchandising and food-service start-ups.
You can get a good deal on used carts, but Clark, who also sells custom-designed carts, urges caution. "People buy a cart they think is cute–only to find out they’ve purchased someone else’s headache," she says. "It ends up costing more to modify than to buy new."
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