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Small and Local Never Smelled So Good

If you ask my children who their favorite person in town is, they will answer Mr. Chi. And on many a night when I am running from field to field and juggling dinner in between, I would have to agree.  Chi Shan Yang, known as Mr. Chi, is our local hot dog man and, like Santa Claus in December, he is seemingly everywhere. By day, he takes his cart to its permanent location in our downtown. By night and weekend he is on the move from each of our seven elementary, middle and high schools plus our three soccer fields to sell hotdogs. $4.75 and you have “the special” which includes two dogs, one soda or water and a bag of chips–a perfect nightcap to a baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse or football game.

Originally from Taiwan, Mr. Chi came here to join his father and has now been running his own cart for 22 years. During that time he married, had three children and became a US citizen. His oldest is now in college.

Owning and operating your own hot dog cart can be a low cost way to start your own business. According to Mr. Chi, basic costs include the cart (approximately $3,000) plus licenses and insurance which can run about $4,000 per year. Companies like Accion and Grameen provide microloans for small businesses like these.

Mr. Chi’s sales can be as high as 2,000 hot dogs a month in the spring. Winter is a lot slower. Monday through Friday, his wife and sister in law operate carts in other downtown locations to help increase total revenues. Adding to his income, about a quarter of customers tip him—this runs higher during the holidays.

Mr. Chi also knows the value of marketing. He believes the customer is always right, often allows children to pay him the next time and has been known to give my daughter free chips when she speaks to him in Mandarin, his native language.

Asked if he would do it all over again, Mr. Chi smiled and said “yes” because he said, “you are making money and making people happy”, but you have to “work really hard” so that “people can find you without looking for you”.

Are hot dogs in your future?  Does your town have a Mr. Chi?

Those of you who have already launched a small business like Mr. Chi’s, how did it work and what did you learn? Email me at annmarie@careerfuel.net to share your story!

 




16 Responses to "Small and Local Never Smelled So Good"

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    November 16, 2011 - 10:34 pm Reply

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    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      November 28, 2011 - 10:28 am Reply

      Thank you for telling us!

  • Dusty Guss
    November 21, 2011 - 4:25 pm Reply

    Many thanks for your article! I really enjoyed being here.

    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      November 28, 2011 - 10:19 am Reply

      Thank you, Dusty, for letting us know. Please spread the word.

  • Keneth
    November 23, 2011 - 11:24 am Reply

    hi there, good blog site, and an excellent understand! 1 for my bookmarking.

    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      November 28, 2011 - 10:18 am Reply

      Keneth, thank you! Hope you share our site with others who might benefit.

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    November 28, 2011 - 9:34 am Reply

    I suggest adding a facebook like button for the blog!
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    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      November 28, 2011 - 10:04 am Reply

      Dear Helen,

      Thank you for making this suggestion. We plan to implement it today.

      Happy holidays.

      AnnMarie McIlwain
      Founder and CEO

  • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
    November 28, 2011 - 10:17 am Reply

    Thank you for writing us and sharing your feedback. If anyone has had browser compatibility problems with our blogsite, they haven’t shared that with us. Our blogs use WordPress, so if we had this issue we would probably reach out directly to them. As for our overall website http://www.careerfuel.net, we do often have this issue so we test it and fine tune it before going live.

    Hope that helps and thank you for your nice feedback.

    AnnMarie McIlwain
    Founder and CEO

  • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
    November 28, 2011 - 10:20 am Reply

    Thank you for writing us and appreciating our blogs. You can sign up for our blogs at http://www.careerfuel.net/blog/ on the right hand side.

    Have a great day.

  • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
    November 28, 2011 - 10:23 am Reply

    Thank you for your input. We really appreciate your taking the time to write us. Your site is also very helpful. I wish I had stumbled upon it before I bought my camera, but will bookmark for others who mention that they are considering such a purchase.

    Happy holidays.

    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      December 7, 2011 - 1:24 pm Reply

      Dear Reader,

      Thank you for taking the time to give us this nice feedback. Other people’s stories are great ways to teach and motivate–exactly our mission. So glad you agree.

      Take care,

      AnnMarie McIlwain
      Founder and CEO

    • AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, www.careerfuel.net
      December 8, 2011 - 10:10 am Reply

      Thank you for letting us know that we are on the right track. Please share with others and note that we will be launching new content soon to give people the tools to find jobs and start businesses.

      AnnMarie McIlwain
      Founder and CEO

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