Treadmills and Threads: meet the mobile businesses traveling across Arizona

There is an uptick in on-the-go businesses traveling around the Valley

Nowadays, people want the products to come to them. The success of business like Postmates and UberEats have shown that there is money to be made in bringing whatever a customer needs to their doorstep.

From students to nurses, people all over the Valley have started their own mobile businesses, which bring their own talents and passions portable.

VALLEY GIRLS 

Abigail Spong, a junior studying journalism and mass communication, started the clothing brand Valley Girls in January 2018 after she realized she needed some sort of creative outlet in her life.


“I was missing that aspect in my life,” Spong said. “I was just trying to figure out what I am passionate about.”

Spong said she got the idea as a kid after watching her mom collect and sell vintage goods, and now she enjoys adding a vintage twist to her clothes.

“I had been collecting vintage clothing since I was a kid,” Spong said. “I was always the one saying ‘I don’t go to H&M. I go to Goodwill.'” 

The process of getting pieces for the website and pop-up shops are simple. She’ll hunt down clothes at flea markets and estate sales or take bags of old clothes that people don’t want. From there, she will distress, cut and sew until the pieces look updated. 

For now, Spong enjoys having the business just be mobile, although there is a brick-and-mortar partnership on the horizon at PopPhoenix, which will feature a few of Valley Girls pieces. 

Spong said being a student is still what comes first, and she doesn't sell clothing for monetary gain but because Valley Girls is something special for her.

“It’s just something I really enjoy that’s not to make money at all,” Spong said. 

RUNBUDDY MOBILE 

In early 2017, David Lopez would travel to numerous dog parks in the valley with the hopes of encouraging dog owners to try his new dog friendly treadmills that were specially made to help get dogs in better shape. 


The idea had come to him after working with AZ Search Dogs and realizing that many dogs weren’t getting the amount of exercise they need.

However, they weren't exactly met with a warm welcome.

“The feedback was not very positive,” said Shaunie Loretz, a member of the RunBuddy team. “The attitude was, ‘I’m already at a dog park, why would I pay for this?'”

So Lopez and his team switched gears and started to help out at local animal shelters. After hearing some success stories of dogs who used the treadmill being adopted at a higher rate, people were sold.

“In the span of about a month and a half, we were on the news about nine-and-a-half times,” Loretz said. “It legitimized not only what we were doing, but because our focus is still helping those dogs in need, it really speaks so well to folks who have rescue dogs.”

Lopez and his team saw being mobile as a great way to tap into the market of dog owners who are not able to walk their dogs because of mobility or other issues.

Loretz said one of the best parts of being mobile is needing nothing more than a parking spot when they arrive at a client's home.

However, there still are some drawbacks to being mobile like difficulties with scheduling and factors like drive time and traffic patterns that can make it hard to reach as many people as possible, even with five vans.

Despite a rough start, overall feedback has been positive, with RunBuddy getting customers, sometimes out of sheer curiosity.

COTE & CO BUS 

Most days of the week, Sarah Cote is a nurse at the Banner Health Center in Downtown Phoenix, but on nights and weekends, she is the founder and owner of Cote & Co Bus. The bus features a wide array of goods including stickers, beauty products and t-shirts designed by Cote herself. 


“I wasn’t really thinking I was going to do something mobile,” Cote said. "Then, I started realizing that all of the overhead involved with all of the full-time brick-and-mortar shop is just not worth it.”

After a few setbacks, Cote found a bus in late 2017 that was perfect for her and got to work by tearing out the seats and getting a new engine and a fresh coat of paint. Birdy, the bus, even has a fitting room on board. 

By March of 2018, Cote was ready to hit the road, but there were growing pains for the first few events.

"It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, especially if you want the set up to look really good," Cote said. "You have to set up once you get there, you know you can only do so much, and the rest you just have to let be."

Cote said that unlike a shop where you can use nights and slow times to set up the store, there may only be 90 minutes for things to look perfect.

"Everything is so personal to me because I pick everything out," Cote said. "When I see someone excited about something, it just makes me happy."


Reach the reporter at Barbara.Smith.3@asu.edu or follow @barbarasmiith on Twitter.

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