Tin Ferl growing despite COVID-19 challenges

Only days after officially launching Tin Ferl, its principals suffered months of business interruptions due to the emergency lockdown measures instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But six months later, they have seen a huge spike in interest in their product.

Tin Ferl is a pop-up park for food trucks and vendors at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, and on its busiest day, Saturday, it will house about 20 food vendors – an increase from the roughly five vendors when the product launched in March.

Brandon Kemp, one of Tin Ferl’s principals, told Guardian Business that the model is “filling a gap that’s needed” for food vendors who often find random roadside areas to sell their goods.

“At the end of the day, we’re always going to have a level of success out here, because when you look around and see all these businesses, they’re establishing this location as their home base,” said Kemp.

“So, you have like 17 or 18 vendors that are now dedicated to making sure this place is successful, because the success of here depends on their success.

“At the end of the day, this type of model, this concept of creating platforms where small entrepreneurs can skip that high overhead cost of starting that brick and mortar business, that’s always going to have a place.”

Alicia “Puppy” Robinson said there has been consistent growth despite the closures, with the group associating itself with about 100 food vendors, many of whom have not yet taken advantage of the Dundas location.

Robinson said some vendors and patrons have already called for Tin Ferl to establish a location in western New Providence. She said the group has simply not been able to lock down a location as yet.

When the idea was initially pitched to the Dundas Centre for the Per  forming Arts, its executives jumped at the opportunity right away.

Part of Tin Ferl’s allure for vendors, Robinson said, is that it takes care of many mundane tasks like ice and cooking gas delivery, tent and table setup. The group even offers generators.

“A lot of the things they would have to apply for themselves, we’ve already done all the leg work for them, so it’s a convenient situation,” said Robinson.

“There are a lot of concessions that we provide for them, so it alleviates the headache of having to go and find power, having to go and find ice, having to go and find any and everything. We give them the tools they need to be successful.

“Plus it’s a sense of community here, so you know you are not just getting your following, you are getting followings from other vendors. It’s better exposure.”

Robinson said one of those important tools offered to Tin Ferl vendors is marketing, while another is supply chain relationships.

“Outside of marketing the structure and the organization, we have relationships with different vendors for things that they need on a daily basis, so it’s literally just plug and play for them,” said Robinson.

“They say what they need and we make it happen. That’s a very big selling point for them as well, because they know we put in the work to make sure they have everything that they need.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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