This is how we roll: New Base of Operations

Blog / This is how we roll: New Base of Operations

Now that Fresh Truck has been on the road for a few years we get a lot of questions about how we make decisions about how to operate the market and design our programs. To answer these questions and many more we are starting a blog series called ‘This is how we roll’. This month we will cover our move to our new base of operations.

Fresh Truck moved into our current location at 69 Shirley St. in Roxbury at the end of June 2018. It serves as the base of operations for our administrative staff, bus operations/parking, and food storage, bringing the whole team together to the same place. We share the 4000 square foot warehouse with City Fresh Foods, a healthy school lunch catering company. It has been a year-long process that brought us here.

For years, Fresh Truck operated out of CommonWealth Kitchen (CWK), an incubator that supports early stage food businesses. CWK provided us with food storage, bus parking, and other basic infrastructure that is burdensome for smaller companies to manage. As we built new buses and started moving more pallets of food every day, however, we slowly outgrew the available resources at CWK, and had to begin to look for a space for the future.

A few things that we needed to think about:

  • What was our budget? How much were we spending between our administrative office, bus parking, and food storage? How much of an investment could our fundraising support?
  • Where are we going to be in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? We had to consider staff growth, food throughput, vehicle buildout plans, and more. We needed a space that would continue to support us down the road.
  • Where did we need to be? We wanted to strike a balance between where our current staff live, how it affects their commute, and where our market locations were.
  • What features and amenities were we looking for? The obvious ones were a loading dock and cold storage. But, as we explored our options, features that we took for granted, like security, bathrooms, and delivery receiving support did not always come with the property.

We began by looking at some options with real estate agents. It was a struggle. Most of the commercial warehousing options meant for produce/meat/fish wholesale distributors were way too large and too expensive, frequently upwards of 10,000 square feet for more than $10,000/month. They were out of our budget, but they were also some of the only options with essential features like offices and cold storage. We then turned to smaller offices/retail storefronts; these would be the regular restaurant space or a retail store front in a strip mall. These were in the right range in terms of size, but lacking in facilities. We would have had to bring in our own cold storage, and build a loading dock (if it were even possible). These spaces also rarely had parking intended for 40 ft. school buses. We were at a standstill.

We knew that we would need to share the space with another organization. Someone with similar needs for a loading dock and food storage, someone who may have a surplus of space, and would value a partner to shoulder the burden for rent. We reached out to a variety of organizations in the city that consisted of other food rescue and nonprofits. We also talked to some other food businesses that were also about to graduate from CWK, who would be willing to jointly lease a space.

Fortunately, one of the smaller locations that came up for rent was next to City Fresh Foods, an organization we were familiar with, and we reached out about sharing the space. It comes with existing cold storage, parking for three buses, at a location that is central to our operating communities.

Thanks to hard work by all of our staff and support from City Fresh, we were able to transition bases without interrupting our weekly market schedule. We have a whole new set of challenges to work through, but we love our new space. We are learning how to share space and work in tandem with new neighbors, and we’re already seeing our operations become more efficient. 69 Shirley St. is already beginning to feel like home!

Blog / This is how we roll: New Base of Operations

Related posts

Introducing FreshConnect

In 2O19, Fresh Truck is expanding on a powerful new program to help us become more impactful, innovative, and sustainable. We call…

This is how we roll: New Schedule Development

Now that Fresh Truck has been on the road for a few years we get a lot of questions about how we…

This is how we roll: Location development

Now that Fresh Truck has been on the road for a few years we get a lot of questions about how we…