Types of Mobile Boutiques

There are only a few categories of Mobile Boutiques, but the size, layout, brand, etc. is unlimited.

Re-purposed School Buses

These can be the smaller Sprinter Van size up to the classic Bluebird school bus that so many of us rode on during our childhood.

Don Brown Bus Sales is one of the many companies that specialized in bus sales.  They offer used buses from under $1,000 to over $100,000.  If you go this route, understand that buses that are yellow are reserved for schools only.  If you purchase a yellow bus, you MUST paint it another color and remove the words School bus to drive it on the road for commercial use.  Sometimes re-purposed buses are used for activities such as football tailgating and they can sometimes get away with not painting another color, but for safety budget in painting a bus prior to purchasing it.

School buses almost always have heat, but not necessarily air conditioning.  Northern US school buses don’t have a/c more typically, while desert climate area school buses may not have heat.

One tricky item with Buses is they may require you to have a commercial drivers license depending on your state and the number of passengers the bus is registered to move.  Even if you remove seats, the bus registration is not changed and you might need to get the bus reregistered with the lower amount of seats to still operate with a normal drivers license.

Commercial Buses

These are a little less common than school buses, but are typically a better fit.  They have more storage under the bus.  They also have more height around the edges as they are designed for adults, not children walking around.  They also have a bathroom, but that could be an inconvenience too.  If you plan on having lavatories available, there is sometimes a smell than can occur inside the boutique.  Also, you need to empty the contents periodically too.  Many truck stops have the facilities for dumping and refilling tanks.

Commercial buses almost always have heat and air conditioning available.  Sometimes they also have generators installed so you can run them even when the bus is turned off.

Step Vans

These are the style that UPS uses.  They are less commonly available, but typical previous use is almost exclusively commercial use, so there are often some sort of racks and many tie down locations.

One downside is they sometimes have a passenger seat, but almost never have space for a third person.  Plan on not having much, if any, help when selling with this type.

Box Trucks

This is a style that U-Haul uses.  They have large open spaces and usually higher than typical ceiling heights.  The Box where people shop is high in the air, so you will need some sort of platform with steps to let customers into the space for shopping.

Like step vans, they have a limited number of seats available, but sometimes there may be space for up to 2 passengers, but almost always at least 1 passenger seat is available.

Motor Homes

If you aren’t a “camper” you probably don’t realize how generic the word camper is.  There are many categories of campers and RVs or recreational vehicles are the generic term, while Motor homes becomes more specific, and a Class A Motor home is one of the most specific terms.

RV Trader lets you search all sorts of Motor homes and travel trailers and is one of the most comprehensive searches available.  For a cheaper price, consider using craigslist.org

There are several types available.  Class A, Class B, and Class C.  Class A is the largest, then Class C, then Class B.

Class B are the smallest and are Sprinter van size.  The will only hold a small amount of inventory, but can be parked in much tighter spaces.

Class C motor homes look like half bus and half truck.

Class A motor homes are the bus style.

The cost of the motor home goes from very low to very high depending on age, quality, size, features, etc.

You will need to remove the majority of the equipment in a motor home to fit your boutique.  You won’t need the beds, kitchen items, bathroom, etc.  Certain items you remove have holes that penetrate the outside walls, so you might need to repair the exterior of the motor home. For example, many refrigerators  in RVs are electric and propane powered.  The propane powered portion requires venting to the outside, so if you remove the fridge, you will need to close the area that vents to the outside.

One benefit of RVs is they typically are wired and plumbed for electricity, heat, and air conditioning.  You may still need a generator or wire ran to a power source, but that is all.

Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels

These are essentially motor homes without motors.  You need to pull them behind your vehicle from either your bumper or 5th wheel on a truck.  They will have very similar situations as a motor home when prepping for a mobile boutique.

Toy Haulers

If you want to have a mobile boutique and a mobile home all in one, this is your choice.  They are mostly available as 5th wheel configurations if you plan on living in it and storing your boutique in it at the same time.  A portion of the trailer will be living spaces including bed, bathroom, fridge, stove, oven, microwave, sink, and dining table.  The other portion is used to store a toy, which in your case will be a boutique.  The store size will be typically the size of a 1 car garage or 8’x10′.

Enclosed Trailers

These are simple trailers with a box around them.  You will need to add electricity, heat, air conditioning, etc.  Often the roofs aren’t sized for an air conditioner so you may need reinforcement to add an air conditioner.  This is often the cheapest solution and one of the few where purchasing new may be better than purchasing used, so a dedicated page is made just for this style.  Click for more information.