Is Future of all Local Retail Mobile?

Originally written July 29, 2021

Reinventing the food truck itself to be more affordable, energy efficient, and flexible can allow new generations of people to start retail businesses that serve their neighbors and feed their children. Especially beyond selling food.

Can trucks be made VERY energy efficient and super affordable? (Without tax incentives.)

I love food trucks!

Real estate prices, both sales and rental costs, will continue to rise for decades to come. We are already at a point where a new entrepreneur who wants to start a brick & mortar retail business must plan for three locations at the start plus revenue beyond traditional sales. Such as online sales and wholesale business models. (Ex. Coffee shop that is also a roaster who sells wholesale beans to local retail stores and online.) Gone are the days of the modest one location store in a building where the owner and their family live on top.

Other retail startup options involve purchasing commercial real estate. Owning has its challenges but can control costs and act as collateral for loans. But this is a very different business than selling goods. Plus the upfront costs are enormous and interest expenses from loans can keep people and families chained to debt for their entire lives.

The food truck resurgence of 2008 in the United States has continued and grown. Many entrepreneurs see it as a start up ramp towards physical static building locations. Others work on and on in their panel vans.

Reinventing the food truck itself to be more affordable, energy efficient, and flexible can allow new generations of people to start retail businesses that serve their neighbors and feed their children. Especially beyond selling food.

This concept is a necessity for the future of the lower and middle class retail entrepreneur. Mega corporations like Amazon are radically changing commerce itself. The pandemic is forever changing the labor force and how we interact in person. Global wealth is changing banking which owns most commercial real estate. Some may believe their kind of growth is endless. But the chasam between the lower/middle class and the so-called upper class is not. There will be a fundamental breakdown of economics as we understand it if human labor and service is eliminated. Because the demand for scale and the future of human viruses is demanding automation on a new scale of AI powered machines. These smart robots will replace all retail positions at some point in the near future.

We must reinvent the simple entrepreneurial opportunity with simple physical sales for every woman, man, and child. 

Is this to be done with a new product that most can not afford? Or is it a method of using existing cheap used technology? Can the food truck be reinvented to accommodate ANY retail business idea?

Lifelike Sculpture Casting Dream

I dream that I was working to make a lifelike sculpture of a bag of sand. (?) Maybe it was a pillow or a bag of sugar. I hand made a model. Someone introduced me to Ron Howard who showed me how to make the 3D model with software. The idea was to use it to make a mold from it.

The night before I was reading about psilocybin mushrooms in Michael Pollan’s book “How to Change Your Mind”. As soon as I was barely conscious I got the idea of making a mold to cast small mushrooms then hand paint them. Specifically the blue Psilocybe Azurescens. Is it possible to make a cast from a living mushroom?

Back to Podcasting

One area I’m most proud of innovating in is Podcasting. I got involved because Ruby bought me an iPod in early 2004 and I wondered, “What can I make for the iPod instead of just consuming with it.” A few months later I started the 3URLs show on On October 3, 2004 I released the podcast episode 3URLs 10/03/04. Thanks to Ibiblio for hosting the mp3s and website for all these years.

Recently I’ve started a new show called Flathead Monster. It’s just interviews with interesting people about what they do. I still have a RSS feed for FHM but I also share it on Youtube. As one does in 2019.

My first episode on is with Brendan Love and we talk about tattoos.

Flathead Monster Podcast by Brian Russell, Episode 001, Brendan Love on Tattoos
Flathead Monster Podcast by Brian Russell, Episode 001, Brendan Love on Tattoos

My Writing

Here is a collection of writing I’ve done over the years. Some of these were written for blogs and others were published in newspapers. These are the ones I’m most proud of. Not because of their flair. But because I was able to get across one or more ideas I really cared about. Check back because I’ll update this list over time.

Last edit: July 13, 2015


Adopt a Local Happiness Index, February 2014

Why Sprawl Kills Coworking, May 2013



Various posts on the Orange Politics blog

If you want local news to survive make it mobile, November 2012



Bricks and Clicks: Hybrid Local Businesses, August 2011

High-speed Internet must be a part of Carrboro’s infrastructure, January 2009

Architectural & Automotive Inspiration – Tiny House Truck

I’ve been daydreaming for awhile about building a tiny house on wheels. A lot of them are built on trailers. Makes sense. This way you can tow it with whatever truck you want. Seems smart to be able to decouple the vehicle and stow the house in a small spot.

But for some reason I’m really fascinated with permanently attaching a tiny house to a flatbed truck. Part of the reason is my love of cars and trucks. I’ve been working on them on and off since I was fourteen. Lots of stories about those days. Another time. Another reason is the sculptural possibilities and the travel nature of it. More RV than shed out back.

You may have noticed I put images up here to keep a record of my inspiration. Here are two more.

I want to put a tiny house version of this awesome church…

2014-11-02 13.42.40
Love the curved ceiling! Like an old Roma caravan.

2014-11-02 13.42.29 2014-11-02 13.42.36

(I’m pretty sure I found the images of this church on the Facebook blog Abandoned, Old & Interesting Places – North Carolina.)

On the top of a old truck like this.

47Studebaker2ton-front 1947 Studebaker 2 ton truck

Truck image source

Now to save the money. You could help by giving me a grant to get the truck. 😉

My New Job at Caktus Group

I am very excited to announce that in early October I start my new job at Caktus Group in Durham, NC. It’s a new position at Caktus with a newish mission. How’s that for vague? 🙂 Once it’s launched I’ll tell you more.

This is a very positive step for me that will have a profound effect on my life in many different ways. For starters I’ll be working in downtown Durham and be able to bike to work!

I have a lot of respect for the folks at Caktus. Ever since they worked at my business Carrboro Creative Coworking I’ve been impressed with them. They’ve steadily bootstrapped a successful business with great style. The founders Colin Copeland, Alex Lemann, and Tobias McNulty are talented technologists with big hearts. The Caktus team does a lot more than make web apps. They build social good via open source software here in North Carolina and in Libya, Zambia, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq!

Caktus Group is a team that I’m really proud to be part of. Stay tuned for more details!



start [ PIRATEBOX].

What is the PirateBox?

PirateBox is a self-contained mobile communication and file sharing device. Simply turn it on to transform any space into a free and open communications and file sharing network. Inspired by pirate radio and the free culture movements, PirateBox utilizes Free, Libre and Open Source software (FLOSS) to create mobile wireless communications and file sharing networks where users can anonymously chat and share images, video, audio, documents, and other digital content.