Retirement was not going to last for "addicted entrepreneur" and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Julia Hutton, and one set retail location wasn't going to work, either.
Hutton had left her public relations company, Orca Communications, in good hands when she retired, but she quickly found out retirement wasn't for her. Instead, she found a niche in the market and decided to give retail a try.
"I noticed all these bikers up in the Cottonwood and Jerome area and I thought it would be fun to get into that and start a retail store," Hutton said. "That's what I did. I helped every business under the sun to grow when I was in public relations so I had confidence in my ability as a business woman."
Hutton found a location in Cottonwood and opened Biker Babes and Beyond, but quickly realized the economy was not what she had hoped.
"Considering the times and considering the area I think we did a decent job, but this stubborn economy is, well, need I say more," Hutton said. "I noticed when Biker Babes went out on the road with a tent and all of that kind of stuff, they did really well. I thought, that's what we need to be doing then if we're going to be serious about this. I closed the retail stores and I bought four trailers, 7 feet by 14 feet each, and four avalanched trucks."
Hutton turned each of the trailers into fully functioning retail stores and headed out on the road. They travel to biking events all over the country. In her first month at a single location she had earned $1,000. Her first month in the trailer made $8,000.
"You couldn't get me to have a set retail store anywhere now," Hutton said. "I would be terrified. The landlords are being more flexible with leases, but still, with all that it takes to build out a store and make it look good, if you're off on your assessment of location, location, location, you're going to have to sit there for a while and wait it out. I just like the idea that I can pack it all up and go."
With the success of her own trailers, Hutton realized this was something she could offer to any business. That's how her new company, ExTreme ReTrailers, began.
"Let's say a retailer is struggling that sells Western wear," Hutton said. "We can build a trailer to their specifications and include a generator, lighting, heat, air conditioning and shelving, anything they need. It includes wireless credit card machines. It's fully functioning little retail stores. If they go one place and don't like the location all they have to do is load up the truck and take it to another."
Each trailer has plenty of room for merchandise, as well as a changing room. There's LED lighting on the inside and out and music for a complete shopping experience. Biker Babes and Beyond has two employees for each trailer. The seats in their Avalanche trucks can be folded down to create a bed and the back of the truck is a fully-stocked cooler.
Permitting with different cities can be a pain with this business model, but it's something Hutton has already gone through so all of that can be included with a trailer. She can also set a client up with public relations to help them get the word out about their business.
Hutton has also realized her trailers can be great for fundraising. They can go to any event and put any kind of product into the trailers. Each trailer is also equipped with heat presses so T-shirts and merchandise can be created on the spot by applying a logo or design. Hutton says she's been contacting restaurants to see if they can set a trailer up in their parking lot. Twenty percent of all sales would go back to the restaurant or any organization that fundraises with them.
The success of this business is much more exciting than golf, Hutton says.
"I think I'm insane. I call myself an addicted entrepreneur," Hutton said. "I'm 67 and I see a lot of my friends talk about their aches and their pains and that's all they are thinking about, and that's really not a good thing. I think this is much better. It's not that I don't have them, but I don't dwell on them. I dwell on the challenges of business. It's just really fun and exciting to start something and see the dream come true. I've always done that for other people and now I'm doing it for myself."
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