Fairfield County has seen a proliferation of food trucks in the latest entry in culinary trends–taking the business directly to the customer. Now, one Wilton retailer is innovating the way it attracts business by adopting that same mobile model. Signature Style is taking its retail business on the road with the store’s new Signature Style Truck.
The idea is one of the new features introduced by owners Janet Siegel and Cara Calabrese since purchasing the custom gift and accessories business last year from its original owners, Ann Nash and Mary Logan. The concept was tossed around while the two pairs of partners discussed the transition and handing over the keys of the business.
“We talked about it and said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be fun?’” laughs Siegel. But it was only an idea until the two women were on a road trip out of state.
“Literally we were driving up to Vermont and said, ‘Hey, there’s a truck on the side of the road,’” Siegel recalls.
“Genuinely. There was a truck on the side of the road. No joke. In the middle of nowhere,” Calabrese adds, noting that, luckily, the truck was in very good condition, considering it was something they just stumbled upon. “We didn’t have to have it painted or anything–just the Signature Style logo put on.”
The inside did need a little customizing, as originally it was set up as a hot dog truck. After removing the cooking apparatus, they added some shelves and desks inside and a touch-up paint job inside, as well as a generator and portable versions of some of the machines they use to personalize various items. And how they’ll use the truck is a work in progress, depending on the situation of where it takes them–but it’s a smart way to ‘drive’ new business (see what we did there?).
“We’re trying to compete in the world of pop-up shops. We’re trying to still provide that service–it’s a service-driven company, so we’re trying to stay within that,” Siegel says. “We have people coming in asking us to stay open late, to do special events. We have people from throughout the region–Westchester, people from the city that are coming and saying, ‘I love the store, I wish I could bring my friends up.’ Now, we can go to them.”
Having the truck opens up a world of opportunities.
“Around the holidays, corporations that want to bring this to their staff, local events, sporting events–like be able to be at the fields on Saturday mornings during the Fall during soccer, and have scarves and hats, sweatshirts, things that people need. We do have a lot of Warrior stuff,” Calabrese says.
“We’ll tailor to wherever we go. We’ll have our staples, our tried and true things that we sell in the store that people come here for–and then tailor it to where we’re going,” adds Siegel.
While they haven’t yet tested it with customers, they’ve gotten a great reaction from anyone who has seen it parked behind their Wilton Center store.
“The response was like, ‘This is yours? Oh my God!’ which I didn’t expect,” Calabrese says. “People where like, ‘We’ll drive it for you!’ and ‘Where are you going?’ People that work here were like, ‘I want to drive it!’ It was very funny.”
Those Signature Style employees may get the chance, especially since both Calabrese and Siegel are a little afraid to get behind the wheel of a truck.
“[Janet’s husband] Jeff is the only one that drives it right now. So when you see the Signature Style truck, you’ll see Mr. Siegel in it,” Calabrese laughs.
“You’ll see cones out back, Cara and I are practicing,” Siegel adds, joining the laughter.
They promise to be ready by this summer in time for Trackside Teen Center’s Wilton Food Truck Festival. They’re also linking up with JoyRide to visit their locations, and have already been approached to be part of other events.
“We could really tailor it to pretty much anything. Anything we have, we can personalize to whatever event it is. We can either have items all done ahead of time, or do it right there on the spot. I think once we get out there, it will be, ‘Okay we’ve got to keep doing this–this is great, this is a lot of fun, and people loved it.’” says Calabrese.
The women also see it as an avenue to drive more traffic to Wilton and other shops and restaurants in town.
“If they want to come to the store pick up a special order, maybe they’ve never been to our store but they want to see it. They come to our store, they come to Wilton and hopefully to shop,” says Siegel. “If we can get that attention and we can help draw people here, and draw people to Wilton, I think that’s a good thing for everybody.”
Signature Style is located at 72 Old Ridgefield Rd….or at a curbside near you.