Excerpted from Public Space Amenities: A Guide to Their Design and Management in Downtowns, Neighborhood Commercial Districts, and Parks, published by Project for Public Spaces.

The design of a vending cart is essential to the success of any vendor, because the cart is the “store.” In developing regulations for vending cart design the following points should be considered.

  • The cart should be designed to reflect the particular product being sold. Different products, to be displayed effectively, require different vending cart designs. For example, if a vendor is selling popcorn, people like to see the corn being popped, and to know that it is fresh. If postcards or fruit or vegetables are sold, people will want to examine them.
  • The cart should be designed for the customer’s convenience. People like to see the vendor, know what they are purchasing, and how much it will cost. People also like to have a place to rest packages or pocketbooks and to get out of the wind or rain.
  • The cart should be designed for ease of operation by the vendor. From the vendor’s point of view, the cart needs to be affordable as well as easy to set up, clean, and move. Vending cart materials should be nonporous, and resistant to dirt and rain. The wheels should be rubber. A drop-canopy for protection from rain and wind, and a seat, are also important to the vendor. For vendors selling food, temperature control and a thermal unit are critical.
  • Vending carts should be easily portable, or a storage space should be provided downtown. Some cities provide storage space downtown for vendors. Others allow some carts to remain in place both day and night (e.g., popcorn wagons). If this is the case, the cart should be designed so that it looks good when it is closed.

For more examples of vending carts (and manufacturers’ information), visit Aaran’s Vending Directory and the VanSan website.