Mobile boutique trucks fight for longer hours on Chicago streets

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You've seen the food trucks in Chicago, but how about mobile boutiques selling art work, clothing, and shoes?

The City of Chicago calls it the mobile boutique industry. Right now, there are six boutique trucks operating with temporary permits, according to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The boutique owners want a long-term solution, and the council committee handling such consumer issues is now considering an ordinance. One of the boutique owners leading the charge for a permanent licensing system is Rebecca Mueller, the owner of North and Hudson, a clothing store on wheels.

"It's such a unique concept in that we're bringing the shopping to the customer," said Mueller, who testified Wednesday in front of a council committee. " The customer doesn't have to go out of their way."

Mueller, along with other mobile boutique owners, however, are concerned about the two-hour parking limit in a legal space. Right now, food trucks are allowed that amount of time to serve customers, but the mobile boutique owners argue they are different. They are pushing to have longer hours once they settle into a parking space.

Delicious Shoe owner Ann Sedgwick, who operates a mobile shoe store, said it takes her 45 minutes to set-up her store and 30 minutes to break down, leaving less than an hour to actually sell shoes. In her opinion, the time limit will kill her mobile business. The mobile boutique owners point out that shopping is different than ordering food too.

"As far as pulling up and doing business for 2 hours, it's not worth it," said Sedgwick, who also owns a brick-and-mortar store. "It definitely makes it impossible to run a business and make any money."

Chicago's Committee on License and Consumer Protection tabled the issue today after several aldermen raised questions about the time restriction, parking locations, and potential conflicts with the food truck industry. The committee, headed by Alderman Emma Mitts, will address the issue again on May 23rd.

"I don't know any business that can be profitable on 2 hours a day," said Mueller, who is considering moving her mobile boutique to Michigan or Indiana.

"The dream option is to stay in my hometown of Chicago," Mueller said "It's where my family is. I want to stay here."
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