As Gloom Spreads, Carts Sprout All Over; The Guajardo Family's Stand in Texas By Sarah Needleman (Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1)
BANDERA, Texas -- In hard times, some small-town Americans are turning to a new livelihood with relish. Among them are Andrea and Ben Guajardo. They began selling hot dogs from a pushcart on Main Street in November.
Ms. Guajardo is a grant administrator for a health-care system. Her husband, Ben, is a pipeline operator. Theirs is the first hot-dog stand in Bandera, pop. 957 that anybody here can remember.
"It's a backup plan," says Ms. Guajardo, a mother of four. "No one knows what's going to happen with the economy, and I don't want to have to scrounge for a minimum-wage job."
Andrea and Ben Guajardo both work full-time, but began selling wieners with help from their four kids in November.
Facing pay cuts and weakened job security, more Americans are turning to this century-old, big-city trade in outposts like Bandera, where cowboys on horseback share the road with motorcyclists. Many of these vendors are working professionals with day jobs, ranging from real-estate agents to train operators.
Sales of carts, which start at about $2,000 new, have heated up in the past year.
Hot dog vendors are a familiar sight in big cities around the country. For one Texas family, their weekend business is bringing in extra cash amid a slumping economy. Sarah Needleman reports from Bandera, Texas.
Today's cart buyers are generally older and have more white-collar work experience than was traditionally the case, says Will Hodgskiss, president and "top dog" at Willy Dog Ltd., the New York manufacturer that built the Guajardo's cart . "People are either buying these carts in anticipation of a layoff or to supplement their incomes," he says. Willy Dog's sales are up 30% from March 2007.