#FoodTruckFan: Selling Extras

A food truck saved my bacon a couple of weeks ago—and it had nothing to do with food.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Minnesota and we’re currently experiencing the coldest winter of my lifetime (officially, it doesn’t just feel that way). Despite single-digit temperatures, there were still two brave food trucks serving the massive crowd at the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in downtown St. Paul.

I thought I had dressed warmly—two sweatshirts under my coat, extra pants, my warmest mittens—but as I watched guys on hockey skates plummet down the icy track, it became apparent that my toes were turning into toe-sicles. My feet were freezing, and so I went for a walk to try to get some circulation back.

And then I saw it—a sign in the window of the food truck: HAND WARMERS.

If you’ve never used one, hand warmers are like tiny instant ice packs—but instead of cold, when you crack it open you get glorious warmth. They fit in your gloves (or boots) and usually cost $2 a pair at a sporting goods store.

The food truck was selling them for $3 a pair and business was booming. As I waited for my food (pork egg rolls, hot and crispy), I kept track: eight out of twelve people added at least one pack of hand warmers to their order. One guy bought four packs.

I wish I could tell you the name of the truck, but I was so focused on warming up that I forgot to take a picture. I applaud this mystery truck for two things:

  • Thinking about what their customers would truly need, specific to that event
  • Thinking beyond food
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That truck had to make an investment, purchasing such a large stock of hand warmers. I suspect they sold out their supply that night, but if they didn’t, I’m sure they can sell the rest in the coming months. It’s not getting warm any time soon.

For your next event, ask yourself: What might my customers need?

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Photo by Barbara Gottsabend

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About the Author

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Mindy Holahan is a staff writer and the #FoodTruckFan columnist. Indeed, she’s a big ole fan of food trucks, particularly if they sell fish tacos. She has a background in the hospitality industry, loves working with writers, and gets positively giddy about the intersection between cooking and science. Follow her on Twitter @HolaMindy for daily bouts of enthusiasm or on Instagram @HolaMindy for her adventures and epic failures in gluten-free baking.

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