If you’ve seen an adorable pink camper van lurking around the downtown area, you may have chalked up its recent appearance to quirky tourists visiting our quaint island.
This is not the case, however – this RV is the home of newly launched Scout Street Style, the brainchild of local entrepreneur and fashionista Aryn Ballett. An idea she’s been toying with for years, Ballett finally turned the concept into reality this summer.
It wasn’t an easy feat – the 28-year-old worked 75 hours a week in two restaurants for nearly a year to amass the capital needed for her business venture. With her hard-earned money now in the bank, the next step was finding a vehicle to house and transport the mobile shop.
“Initially, I was looking for a cube van or an old ice-cream truck. I started to look at RVs and drove around the Avalon for weeks searching Kijiji ads,” she recalled. Eventually, she struck gold in Grand Le Pierre, on the south coast of the island, where she found a 1986 Ford, 26 feet long and 8 feet wide.
Aided by her contractor/mechanic father and welder brother, the RV was given a new life, and a fresh coat of pink paint. While the renovations were completed, Ballet worked on a business plan for Scout, including seeking funding from local banks. When the financing was approved, Ballett headed to Montreal to establish contact with clothing distributors and labels, bringing back purchases to stock her shop.
“It’s not a t-shirt stand or a cheap boutique. Most items are under $100 but they are quality fashion pieces. The store looks exactly like a regular boutique only smaller. People are telling me what an excellent innovative idea it is,” Ballett said, noting that few people walk by without stopping.
“Most of the brands I have are not available anywhere in Newfoundland,” she added. I’m selling Levi’s, Free People, Quay, Glamorous, and many more brands,” Ballett said, noting that some of her items come from as far away as Australia.
“The most difficult part of the entire experience was getting a mobile vending permit,” Ballett said. “The city of St. John’s has a lot of regulations in place for mobile vendors. They have no option for a mobile vending unit that customers actually step inside,” she said.
“I made over 100 phone calls and 15 trips to City Hall,” she continued. “I had to get a commercial vehicle inspection, a massive insurance policy, and a building inspection.”
To supply power to Scout while also adhering to a law that prohibits generators, Ballett opted for solar power. “I have lights, music, a cash register – all the features of a regular store, but it’s completely free of electricity, sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
It was a lengthy headache and a legal rigamarole, but her hard work paid off. With the permit secured, Ballett wished to thank city officials for their work. “They could have just denied my request because certainly that would be the easy choice but they worked with me until it was done,” she said. “It was difficult to be the first person to try something.”
Scout will be hitting the road this summer, bringing a shining beacon of high fashion and entrepreneurial spirit across the island. In the capital city, you can find Scout parked on Harbour Drive from Thursday to Sunday.
The Folk Festival in Bannerman Park and the Blueberry Festival in Brigus are stops on the festival circuit, with plans to set up shop near the brewery in Port Rexton in August and in Corner Brook in early September. Scout also offers private shopping appointments, bringing her mobile store directly to interested shoppers. “I am open to going to any community there is an expressed interest in,” Ballett said.
To find Scout’s location or to set up a shopping appointment, follow scout.street.style on Instagram or contact Aryn Ballett at firstname.lastname@example.org.