The melody of the ice cream truck has serenaded neighborhoods for decades. More recently, food trucks offering restaurant-worthy menus have popped up across Pittsburgh. Now fashion is the latest thing on four wheels.
Stylist Cailey Breneman was bored by the monotony of the boutique and mall shopping experience: Walk into the store, try something on, check out and leave. Her idea was to combine the mobility of a food truck with the merchandise of your favorite boutique and the fun of a dance party.
"Nobody's done it yet [in Pittsburgh]," said Ms. Breneman, 28, of the South Side. "If I wait much longer, someone else is going to do it."
Earlier this month, she took fashion truck Roadie out for its debut, a day of music, food, drinks and shopping in the Bar Marco parking lot in the Strip District. A couple of weeks later, she returned to the Strip District for a similar event at Bayardstown. Saturday she's taking Roadie to Union Pig & Chicken/Harvard & Highland in East Liberty from 8 p.m. to midnight.
"Everybody's just been really supportive of the whole thing," she said, noting that the first pair of events attracted about 200 people.
Nationwide, fashion trucks have taken on a mix of looks and sizes, from 1960s-style trailers and 18-wheelers to vehicles that resemble an ice cream truck, in places such as New York City, Austin, Nashville, Philadelphia and across the West Coast. The growing trend prompted the founding of the American Mobile Retail Association, which supports the efforts and needs of these nomadic retailers.
Roadie is a pickup truck and a Jeep Liberty chock-full of vintage and contemporary fashions and accessories. When it's parked, Ms. Breneman spreads out the pieces on racks, ladders and dress forms so people can browse.
"I'm just saving like crazy," she said. "By the end of the summer, I would like to buy a Winnebago."
Roadie taps into Ms. Breneman's love of travel and her experience as a buyer for vintage South Side-based boutique Yesterday's News, which her grandmother owned until plans to renovate the building forced her to vacate and close last month. Ms. Breneman also travels the country as a stylist, assisting with photo and video shoots. Some of what Roadie offers are items Ms. Breneman has picked up while on the road or used for a shoot.
"It's fun to be able to tell someone as they're admiring something where it came from," she said.
For each event, she tries to tailor Roadie's inventory to the tastes of the crowd that might turn out, with $100 or less being the typical price range.
For now, Ms. Breneman is focused on building a following for Roadie in Pittsburgh, but she hopes to set up at some music festivals in the future, as well as maybe head to sunnier parts of the country during Pittsburgh's cooler months.
"I'm just really figuring it out as I go," Ms. Breneman said. "It's just about going out there and having fun and getting your name out there."
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG. First Published June 18, 2013 4:00 AM