Stunning Mobile Businesses in Chattanooga

Businesses on Wheels

While food trucks stand at the forefront of the mobile business scene, countless other services are hitting the road. Converting a truck or trailer into a fully functional business is hard work, but the flexibility it offers is well worth it – from traveling to expand a customer base to showing up on site for bookings. Read on to learn how local entrepreneurs are taking their successful startups and storefront extensions to Chattanooga residents and beyond.

By Rachel Studebaker / Photography by Sarah Unger

A Little Bookish

Miranda Atkins

Mobile businesses often grow into brick-and-mortar locations, but for Miranda Atkins, it was the opposite. In 2018, she opened her bookshop, A Little Bookish, as a storefront in Ooltewah. The business was embraced by the community but hit a roadblock only two years later.
“When COVID-19 shut down small businesses in 2020, we decided to take the opportunity to shift into our current model – a mobile bookshop! It has allowed us to find and serve a whole new population of readers and book lovers,” shares Atkins.
A Little Bookish’s mobile unit was born from a potato chip truck-turned-boutique, conveniently renovated for retail. “The former owners had already put in beautiful lights and laminate flooring, so all we had to do was move our bookshelves in,” says Atkins. Floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with fresh finds and well-known classics alike line the shop’s interior. The trailer’s exterior is part of the experience too – it doubles as a massive canvas for children to draw on while parents browse the books inside.
Atkins explains how this unique feature came to be: “We originally thought the mobile model might be temporary, so we didn’t want to invest too much into the exterior – we left it white with just our name on the side. But then we invited families to decorate our truck with dry erase markers, and that became such a fun part of the experience … There is a novelty about a bookstore on wheels with walls you can draw on.”
The business has expanded to include an online store and offer various local book clubs. Atkins enjoys engaging in this community of fellow readers, sharing, “I love meeting book lovers everywhere we go! Each place has a new market that enjoys different genres. I love to hear what my guests are reading and share what books and authors I’ve been interested in lately.”
What began as a short-term solution to accommodate social distancing has become a thriving space for bibliophiles that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Having received such positive feedback from her customers, Atkins feels confident in the path forward: “We’ve decided the mobile model is the best fit and long-term plan for A Little Bookish.”

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Blumenwagen & Little Blume

Becca Coleman
and Erin Leonard

Joli Jardin Farm & Flower Shop’s owners Becca Coleman and Erin Leonard grow a wide variety of vibrant blooms at their private farm on Signal Mountain, supplying Chattanooga with fresh and sustainably grown flowers. An extension of the farm and its storefront, Blumenwagen – German for “flower wagon” – debuted in 2019 as Chattanooga’s first flower truck and was an immediate success.
Coleman recalls the busy first year after Blumenwagen opened for business. “We completed over 100 pop-ups. We popped up at markets, small businesses, corporate events, weddings, and other private events. We were completely mobile our first year.”
Such high demand prompted Joli Jardin to acquire a second, smaller flower truck: Little Blume. Coleman explains, “Our pop-ups were heavily dependent on happening on the weekends, and we often had many requests for the same days. This is eventually why we expanded to having the two trucks.”
Both trucks have a storied past. Before Blumenwagen housed flowers, the 1978 Mercedes 608D fought fires as an Austrian firetruck. “One fun fact about Blumenwagen is that it was blessed by the Pope. We have the coin from the Vatican City and the documentation from the event,” shares Coleman. Meanwhile, the 1997 Daihatsu Hijet that would become Little Blume traveled to Chattanooga on a container ship all the way from Japan.
Another trip overseas may not be in their future, but the trucks still see plenty of travel, as they bring beautiful blooms to customers all over the Southeast. During these pop-ups, Joli Jardin sells its locally grown flowers by the stem, allowing “clients to make their own bouquet, or we help them create something beautiful,” says Coleman.
While Joli Jardin operates a thriving downtown storefront, the addition of Blumenwagen and Little Blume has opened doors that the stationary location cannot. “We get to travel to so many places that our storefront doesn’t … We also love the flexibility the trucks offer us. We can work events from Chattanooga to Atlanta,” shares Coleman.
She adds, “Popping up in the flower truck is magical. It makes people so happy to see it, and it makes us so happy to help them pick our flowers.”

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Valkyrie Axe Throwing

Randy Connelly

A local business has converted a trailer to host an unlikely sport – axe throwing. Randy Connelly’s axe throwing bar in Chattanooga’s Southside, Valkyrie Axe Throwing, began offering a travel lane for booking three years ago, letting his team of “axeperts” take the fun to groups and events in the region.
To accommodate the space that axe throwing requires, Connelly couldn’t use just any ordinary trailer. He started out with pieces that required continual assembly: “We had to rent a U-Haul to fit all the pieces of the old travel lanes in, and we would have to put together and break down the lanes at each event.” In 2020, Connelly acquired a flat top trailer and constructed a sleek, full-size axe throwing lane atop it. “This trailer is huge. We are talking 22 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 11 feet tall, and somewhere around 4,000 pounds,” he describes.
Valkyrie’s travel lane books a wide array of appearances, from local fairs and birthday parties to church events and business celebrations. “You name it, and we’ll be there,” says Connelly. An axe throwing professional from Valkyrie’s team accompanies the trailer to help coach throwing techniques and ensure all participants have an enjoyable experience at the lane.
“This really is a service for everyone,” Connelly emphasizes. “Most people see us at businesses or big events and assume that it’s either only available for businesses or is really expensive – in reality, it’s not at all. Some of my favorite events we have done are for people who have hired us to come to their house to hang out with a group of friends for their cookout or as an excuse to get people together.”
Ultimately, Valkyrie’s travel lane exists to provide safe and engaging fun to anyone interested in giving axe throwing a go. Connelly concludes, “We throw axes for a living. What’s not to love? On top of that, the people who hired us want us there to give them a good time. So, we get to do what we love, and give others that same experience.”

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Chattanooga Rolling Video Games

Montrell Besley

Chattanooga Rolling Video Games is hard to miss. Images of popular video game characters and thrilled children wielding controllers adorn the side of the massive 32-foot trailer. It’s no question that excitement is in store for guests of this mobile video gaming theater.
Inside is a gamer’s paradise. Six widescreen HD televisions cover the trailer walls in front of stadium seating, while built-in vibration motors sync to on-screen action and surround sound, immersing players in the game at hand. Platforms from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X to Nintendo Switch and virtual reality headset, Oculus, stand at the ready, equipped with the latest games.
Owner Montrell Besley has been bringing this mobile video gaming experience to events for over a year. The trailer travels regionally, and as far as northern Alabama and Georgia, its eye-catching decals marketing the business everywhere it goes.
“We are available for birthday parties, special events, fundraisers, schools, corporate team building, festivals, or anytime you want to see a group bond and have a great time,” says Besley. “I love pulling up to birthday parties and special events. The looks on the kids’ faces are priceless. It’s amazing to see how kids and big kids – adults – come together on common ground.”
Whether it’s with family and friends or peers and colleagues, the gaming experience promotes healthy competition and creates a shared experience among players through its linked screens and consoles. Larger groups are also invited to join the fun, as the system can sync up to 24 participants.
Chattanooga Rolling Video Games involves collaboration for Besley as well, as he works alongside family. He shares, “My favorite part about operating my business is doing it with my family, especially my sons. It gives me the opportunity to spend time with them and learn more about what they are into. It also helps me to teach them entrepreneurship.”
Reflecting on his time spent operating Chattanooga Rolling Video Games, Besley expresses his gratitude for the mobile business and the freedom it has allowed him. He encourages anyone considering their own business venture to “take that leap of faith” and join the thriving community of small business owners in the Scenic City.

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SunKissed Photo Bus

Shane and Kaley Tretheway

For Shane and Kaley Tretheway, a trip down under led to the creation of their thriving mobile business. “We had the opportunity to travel in a VW Bus down the Great Ocean Road in southern Australia for a weekend in 2016, and that is where our love for these vehicles began. When we got back to the United States, we knew we wanted to own one someday,” shares Kaley.
Inspired by this trip and his work as a photographer, Shane thought to launch Chattanooga’s first photo booth bus. The couple purchased a run-down 1971 Volkswagen Transporter online and got to work. Repairing a vintage vehicle requires specialized skills; the bus crossed state lines to visit a mechanic in Asheville, North Carolina, who got it up and running. Afterward, a paint and body specialist finished its exterior. The vehicle returned to Chattanooga with a working engine and shiny, yellow finish, and the Tretheways began fondly referring to it as “Miss Daisy.”
Kaley recalls, “The entire redo took about six months to complete. We went back and forth on what color to have the bus painted, but eventually, we landed on a deep, vibrant yellow. The bus we rented in Australia was a yellow bus named Applejack, so we wanted to preserve those memories with our bus. In addition, we think yellow is such a happy color, and Miss Daisy puts a smile on the face of everyone she passes!”
SunKissed Photo Bus debuted in August 2018 at a local bridal expo and was an instant success. The vehicle contains a stylized photo booth that the Tretheways take to weddings and events in the area to help guests capture memories. While the bus itself is a fun photo op, the booth inside prints traditional four-photo strips that serve as cherished keepsakes for its visitors.
Having a mobile business means the sky is the limit when it comes to venues, a freedom Kaley appreciates. “We love going to new places and being able to set up our photo booth practically anywhere. We’ve had Miss Daisy in some unique locations, from the inside of the JW Marriott ballroom in Nashville to the beaches of Hilton Head Island and Jekyll Island.”
Looking to the future, they dream to equip the bus with an electric motor and continue introducing Miss Daisy to more smiling faces.

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Little Massage Trailer

Janie Kraft

The Little Massage Trailer is offering luxury and convenience to Chattanooga residents in need of relaxation. Its owner and certified massage therapist, Janie Kraft, brings 14 years of cultivating therapeutic massage experiences to the table, offering deep tissue, Swedish, and prenatal massages from a cozy renovated trailer. Her mobile business was born out of a desire to “make the world a better place, one massage at a time.”
Kraft shares that her priorities when selecting a mobile unit were comfort and quality. “I didn’t want to go too large for the sake of ease and maneuverability; however, I recognized the need for space to alleviate the ‘I’m in a trailer’ feeling and any potential for claustrophobia,” she explains. “It was of utmost importance to me that the trailer be aesthetically pleasing and well-built to reflect what I was trying to offer my clients – quality.”
To accomplish this, Kraft did extensive research to turn a simple trailer into a “safe, efficient, and luxurious healing massage space.” She traveled to neighboring states to investigate manufacturers and learned the technical ins and outs of building a trailer, from gross vehicle weight ratings to electric brake settings.
The result of Kraft’s thorough planning was an elegant space that gave her the freedom to choose where to take her services. She primarily visits residential areas, explaining, “My original business model was to offer employee appreciation programs and events to local businesses. Then the pandemic hit, and people started working from home … I began seeing food trucks coming into my neighborhood and from there, got the idea to follow my stomach and go where the food trucks go.”
Kraft brings her trailer to local neighborhoods and apartment complexes and plans to expand her reach to include businesses and events. She appreciates the control and change of scenery that accompany a mobile business and makes it her goal to “mix up locations and experience all the nooks and crannies of Chattanooga.”
She adds, “It 100% has been hard at times, but it has 100% been inspiring and fulfilling.”

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