New mobile boutique rolls out on Memphis streets

Cyndii Jo Hartley, local hairdresser and entrepreneur, is ready to unveil her new retail innovation, the Henny Penny mobile boutique. On the heels of the food truck trend, Hartley’s “fashion truck” will wheel a unique shopping experience to a variety of Memphis area locations.

The truck will have its first public outing on March 26 at the Memphis Fashion Week preview party at Wiseacre Brewing Company on Broad Avenue. A grand opening for the general public will be on Saturday March 29, noon to 4pm in the parking lot of Theatre Memphis.

Hartley is optimistic about Henny Penny’s reception because she believes the market is ready for the concept. “I find that Memphis loses a lot of boutique business because there’s not enough of it here. Shoppers go elsewhere, like Nashville. It’s something that’s lacking here, especially at a certain price point.” She intends to keep the price tags of the apparel and accessories in her store below $100.

The flexibility of her mobile boutique allows her to follow customers to events and special locations, and it also allows her to avoid high storefront costs. “The overhead of brick and mortar can kill you, with rent and construction alone,” Hartley says. “Having it in a truck is, frankly, cheaper. And you also remove the problem of location from the equation. Poor location can make it hard to get people in the door. Now I can go anywhere in the city.”

The transformation of the 2004 GMC Workhorse from delivery truck to upscale shop was aided by MEMmobile, a Mobile Retail Pilot Program intended to provide the general public with more diverse retail options, to promote small business growth and to promote local artists and designers.

Hartley intends to hire an employee as a sales associate, to ensure quality customer service. “I really want it to be a personalized experience, so it will help to have more than one person working on the truck.”

Her goal is to be in the truck and on location Friday through Sunday each week. She has a business license and will seek permission from private businesses before putting the truck in park, but it is legal for her to sell in any legal parking areas.

Hartley has run her own styling business for nine years through Epic Total Salon. But because of a recent bicycle injury that has limited her ability to work as a hair stylist, she was motivated to try something new. The idea of a fashion truck intrigued her.

“It’s like this has always been my dream, but I just didn’t know what it was.”

By Anna Mullins
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