I can pull up by the curb, I can make it on the road, goin’ mobile. I can stop in any street and talk with people that we meet, goin’ mobile. Keep me moving, mmm. Out in the woods or in the city, it’s all the same to me. When I’m driving free, the world’s my home when I’m mobile. - The Who’s Going Mobile
Thanks to some Craigslist digging, loads of elbow grease and plenty of pluck and creativity, Fox Run Mobile Marketplace™ has hit the road, showcasing its load of artisan goods at area events and festivals. Think food truck minus the goodies and plus the goods.
Its inaugural event was April’s Minnesota Horse Expo at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. “I love meeting people, and it seems like every time we have a show, we meet someone amazing or make a new story to tell our friends,” owner Tia Scott says. “My husband and I look at this as a way to travel and see different places while still ‘working.’ Aaron says he’s excited to see people enjoy the truck.”
Scott and her husband, Aaron, didn’t start out behind the wheel of a repurposed 1966 military truck. (The couple moved to the Maple Grove/Corcoran area more than two years ago.) Scott was an art director, Aaron is an electrical engineer, and together they dabbled in flipping houses. “After our first two house flips, we had an excess of furniture and antiques, and we started selling [them to] some of the local shops,” Scott says. “It wasn’t long after I quit my day job that I got the bug to start doing home staging and styling, using the pieces we had once given new life to.”
That turned into selling redone furniture and antiques. “In our parent business, Fox Run Farm, we were using that foothold to [attend] maker shows, and, naturally, we were meeting amazing artisans through those channels,” Scott says. Fox Run Farm features home styling, furniture and display building and a greenhouse. While satisfying, Scott felt there was more they could do in terms of building a business. “For me, I knew somehow I wanted a way to offer more from our business and build on the connections we were making,” she says.
“Last year was a really tough year in terms of hauling, moving, setting up, taking down and doing it all over again the next weekend [attending shows and markets to sell goods],” Scott says. During a vendor meeting, the discussion circled around how they could continue the weekend-work lifestyle. “I was really hesitant to commit to another year of living the carnie life, so we were spit balling ideas to make it work,” Scott says. Ideas kept rolling through the conversation and in Scott’s mind. “I can only take credit for a small part of the idea of marketplace,” she says. “I gave it a name, but the idea really belongs to my team.”
With the concept in place, it was time to, literally, give it wheels. Enter Aaron and his sleuthing skills. Keep in mind, even if an item is listed on Craigslist, it can take a bit of hunting to flesh it out of the weeds. Aaron is known to scour the site. “His fantasy has been to own a K5 CUCV Military Blazer, so he looks frequently for those,” Scott says. One of his searches yielded the AM General 934a Expandable Military truck. (AKA the mobile marketplace rig).
“[He] had that moment of, ‘Honey, I think I found something,’ Scott says. Deciding to “just take a look” at the truck, the couple trekked to the Rochester area. “As soon as we pulled up, I thought, ‘Holy crap. That’s big,’” she says. Thanks to Aaron’s knowhow, within about 30 minutes, they had it fully opened (the sides open out like a camper). “The minute I stepped inside, I could see my vision for what would become the marketplace,” Scott says. (The truck is 32 feet long from bumper to bumper and 12 feet high. When it’s closed, the truck is eight feet wide and 14 feet wide when it’s open, giving 240 square feet of retail space.)
While the truck seemed to fit the bill, to say it needed some work might be an understatement. Between mid-December 2018 and weeks before the April launch event, the couple did about 85 percent of the rehab work themselves. Out came the old paneling and insulation. The duo epoxy coated the wall frame, reinsulated the truck and hung new wall panels and trim, and Aaron ripped out all the electrical and lighting.
“During this time, we had to take her to Crystal Welding to have new exterior rocker panels added since they were all but gone. Shortly thereafter, [the truck] went to Maaco in Fridley to be painted and was there for four weeks of our build time ...” Once the truck was returned, they painted the interior, hung new lighting and electrical, installed new flooring and got the decals in place. “All in total, she will have been worked on and finished in under 120 days,” Scott says.
With the vessel completed, it was time to fill the ship, and Scott was ready with the goods. “The vibe of the truck is simple because I wanted it to be more of a blank canvas for our artisans,” she says. Products need to fulfill some notions—do they honor heirloom, handmade ideals, are they environmentally friendly and do they support the greater good? “It’s important to us that this truck showcase these ideals even if you aren’t aware—such as zero plastic packaging, e-receipts, LED lighting, recycled content and more, while still showcasing the amazing artistry that we have.” At the same time, Scott wants a space that is relatable to customers, “whether through our mission or finding something that sparks joy in them,” she adds.
Initially, Scott wanted eight vendors. But, like the truck, she supersized her vision. “… I made a list of every category I could think of that I wanted for the truck, which was way more than eight … Some of the categories were easy to fill because we had existing relationships with artisans. For those I didn’t know, I went to every art and craft fair we could manage in the time we had to meet makers, who would fill our other categories.”
Scott chose vendors based on the quality of product, brand presence and (“a big one for us”) personality. “Because for us, it’s more than just working with artisans, it’s creating a culture of businesswomen, who support one another, so selecting people who ‘flock’ together and get excited to build each other up the in this crazy bandwagon.” Scott is pleased with the choices. “I really wanted to have a harmonious collective of people in different categories of stuff, and I think I achieved it,” she says.
Any entrepreneur worth her weight in sales thinks, “What’s next?” Scott is no different. “Well, we were thinking about a double decker bus at one point, but it got vetoed pretty quickly,” she says. “So, we are currently working on what we are going to do to continue to build our brand. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements and big projects in the works.”
Fox Run Mobile Marketplace™ features an eclectic list of vendors.
8th Avenue Market – Clay pottery and handmade ornaments, magnets and more
ASpire Signs and Décor – Hand-lettered signs
Everart Designs – Handmade jewelry
Found Home Farm – One-of-a-kind paintings
Grandma Skills – Knitted and crocheted baskets, rugs, scarves and more
Hackberry – Leather home organization, shelves, pulls and hooks
Midnight Oil Studio and Workshop – Hand screen printed glow-in-the-dark prints
Moxie Malas – Beaded intention bracelets and meditation malas
Sebesta Apothecary – Hand-poured soap, bath soaks, balms and shaving products
Socially Handcrafted – Take-and-make kits for signs and hand-poured paint projects
Spicy Nacho Home Décor – Handmade pillow covers
Studio Cyrk – Hand-stitched sayings on vintage fabric, vintage wallpaper, sassy sayings and vintage greeting pouches
Spoonfull Apparel – Feel-good shirts, sweatshirts and caps, with a portion of proceeds going to charity
(Fox Run Mobile Marketplace™ wholesales with Wax Buffalo Candles and Wayfaring goods leather.)
Visit Foxrunmobilmarketplace.com for an up-to-date list of events.