While the economic recovery continues to deliver mixed signals many frustrated job seekers are becoming self-employed in the food concession business with help from a new book.
Twenty six years ago the author of the book was a single parent. She was also a high school drop-out with a minimum wage job. Today she is a nationally recognized expert in the mobile food business: a unique line of work that has recently gained national attention as a viable solution to unemployment. Now, with the release of the second edition of her book, Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, author Barb Fitzgerald brings to life the refreshingly unconventional business of selling food from a food booth at fairs, festivals and special events.
The release of Food Booth is timely as the mobile food service business has recently gained popularity with frustrated job seekers. With the national average unemployment rate stalled at over nine percent many people have abandoned their job search and turned, instead, to self-employment. However, for many people struggling to stretch their limited bank account finding the right opportunity as well as risking the grub stake needed to start a venture is both challenging and frightening. Further, even during a healthy economy those people who are under-educated, disabled, over-aged, or are ex-convicts can find the job search particularly difficult. Now, with the class of job seekers ballooning to include nearly everyone, viable money-making opportunities are in high demand.
In her book Fitzgerald illustrates how starting a mobile food service business is one possible solution for nearly anyone seeking self-employment. The increasing popularity of this unique business is understandable. It provides cash income with minimal start-up costs and opportunity for a relatively high return. And, being one of very few business ventures that doesn’t first require a college degree or prior experience makes self-employment possible for people who normally would not consider themselves entrepreneurs. And, perhaps even more important to the recently laid off, it is a business that is recession sturdy because people always need to eat.
Fitzgerald herself can attest to the viability of the concession business as a legitimate entrepreneur opportunity. She started her concession business with no more than spare change. Over the years she went on to build it into a successful seasonally run small business that, during the three to four month concession season, earns well over triple her annual minimum wage. However, “The food concession business is not a get-rich-with-no-money down fantasy”, asserts Fitzgerald. “Nor is it as easy as it may appear”. A lack of adequate concession start-up information is one reason the typical concession start-up fails. The long learning curve required by many un-seasoned concessionaires can undermine any financial gain that otherwise could have been achieved. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising that many out-of-work entrepreneurs find the possible benefits far out-weigh the risks of continuing down their current path of unemployment.
Today, selling food at special events, such as fairs and festivals, or from a permanently located food stand requires business moxie, as well as strict adherence to the procedures of conducting due diligence, planning, licensing, and marketing. Food Booth shines a light on all the important aspects of being a concessionaire. Whereas most business start-up books only tell readers “what to do,” Food Booth also addresses the how and the why. Fitzgerald divulges expertise from more than twenty-six years of food concession business experience, including insights gained by co-chairing a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and founding the Northwest Vendors Network Association. As Fitzgerald observes, “I believe people are more healthy and happy if they move away from wage-earning dependency toward an economy where people have the opportunity to be responsible for producing their own income.” Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, is just the comprehensive how-to guide one needs to produce an independent income.