By Elaine Williams
Lewiston Tribune, Idaho
Jody Ausman pulled a short-sleeved black jacket from a shopping bag.
Her find cost $11 and she was beaming the smile of someone happy about money well spent. “I’ve never bought clothing in Asotin before,” she said.
Ausman was one of more than 60 customers who made purchases from Stitches to Britches/STB Boutique Fashion Truck during an eight-hour stint at the Asotin street fair, a first-year event that coincided with the county fair. The truck might be the first of its kind in the region and is part of a trend gaining momentum in other parts of the country.
The women streaming in and out of the vehicle couldn’t get over the novelty.
“They had really cute stuff in there. I was impressed,” said Holly Strasser, a Portland, Ore., resident who was visiting family. She stood outside the truck occasionally giving her stepmom thumbs-up signs as she held up clothing.
The entrepreneur who opened the truck is Megan Weber of Lewiston.
“The concept of the truck is a big draw because it’s new and unique,” Weber said. “People want to check it out.”
She spent more than a decade investigating ways to have her own retail clothing store, strongly considering a brick-and-mortar location before stumbling onto the idea of the truck on Pinterest.
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? How did I not know this exists?’ ” Weber said. “Nine days later we bought a truck.”
It was December 2014. She had just added women’s clothing to the selection of products she sold online in the fall. Until then, she had specialized in children’s clothing and accessories she made herself.
Hot sellers were hair clips and headbands with cloth flowers, one of her original products, along with T-shirt scarves in the colors of college and professional football teams.
The truck was an affordable way to overcome a hiccup that had emerged. Her Lewiston-Clarkston Valley customers wanted to try on clothing, and the only place she could accommodate that was a small space in her garage.
She found the vehicle, which is about the size of a food truck, in Spokane where it had been a tool business that, like her store, could travel to its customers.
Her husband renovated it, installing wood laminate on the floor, white wooden display closets, a corrugated metal ceiling and, of course, a fitting room.
It cost about $10,000 with the remodeling and has space for 400 to 500 items. Plus, she doesn’t have fixed expenses such as rent or employee wages since she only opens the truck when she’s available.
That’s important because Weber balances Stitches to Britches with a full-time job at Alpine Archery as an account executive and being a wife and a mother to three children.
It’s also turning out to be a time saver. It used to be that if she went to events, she would have to put everything in totes, set up and then tear down afterwards. If someone ordered something online she’d have to dig it out. Now everything is always ready to go in the truck.
Her venue, however, is just part of her business model. She has strict criteria for what she sells. As much as possible, she likes to carry every item in juniors, women’s and plus sizes.
“Most of the clothes I bring in are the ones the online boutiques carry, but (customers) don’t have access to them locally,” Weber said. “With the truck, they can try them on and not have to pay shipping.”
The pieces are versatile, clothing that fits in at work and can transition for weekend parties or concerts with different accessories, Weber said. “The LC Valley has its own style. …Women don’t want to spend money on something they can only wear to one occasion.”
Weber’s approach was part of what impressed Ausman.
“I just wear things like this out,” Ausman said of the black jacket. “The fact I found something I’m going to wear every other week of the year is huge.”
Weber is pleased too. She’s booked frequently for the rest of the year and would like to add more. She does private parties that are similar to Tupperware or Avon where the hostess gets money to spend based on how much her guests buy. The truck will also appear in places like Clarkston’s Alive After Five and Kendrick’s Locust Blossom Festival.
“The public events are amazing,” Weber said. “If it wasn’t for the truck, I probably wouldn’t be able to continue to carry the women’s clothing.”