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Your Future in the New Economy: Hot Dog Vendor

Has it really come to this? The Wall Street Journal reports that professional white collar workers in small towns are turning to running hot dog stands in their spare time to make ends meet. Hot dog carts sales are on the rise in recent months, according to The Journal. Hot dogs are considered a recession proof food, and they have the advantage of being precooked, which means a vendor doesn’t have to tangle much with health inspection requirements. Plus, many small towns have fewer hot dog carts than big cities do, so it’s an open market.

From The Journal:

Facing pay cuts and weakened job security, more Americans are turning to this century-old, big-city trade in outposts like Bandera, (Tex.) where cowboys on horseback share the road with motorcyclists. Many of these vendors are working professionals with day jobs, ranging from real-estate agents to train operators.

Sales of carts, which start at about $2,000 new, have heated up in the past year. “Business is really off the charts,” says Dan Jackson, a division manager at Nation’s Leasing Services in Newbury Park, Calif. Leases for hot-dog carts account for about three-quarters of sales, and revenue is triple what it was this time a year ago, he says.

Today’s cart buyers are generally older and have more white-collar work experience than was traditionally the case, says Will Hodgskiss, president and “top dog” at Willy Dog Ltd., a New York cart manufacturer. “People are either buying these carts in anticipation of a layoff or to supplement their incomes,” he says. Willy Dog’s sales are up 30% from March 2007.

The Journal resorts to using the phrase “dogged pursuit” in the headline and says small town folks are turning to this new profession “with relish.” I’m not going down the hot dog pun path. This trend isn’t actually all that funny, if it really is a trend. The possibility that you might end up standing on your feet all day at a second job dishing out hot dogs — or doing some other kind of work — because the economy is nosediving could be the harsh reality ahead. For the people who find themselves in that position, it’s nothing to laugh about.

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