Rack + Clutch: St. Louis "Fashion Truck" Has Dispute With Mayor Francis Slay Over Licensing

Categories: News

Rack + Clutch.jpg
Courtesy of J Elizabeth Photography
Emily Ponath of Rack + Clutch.
It's like a food truck -- only instead of selling food, Rack + Clutch sells jewelry, accessories and clothing on the streets of St. Louis.

The only challenge for this brand-new "fashion truck," which seems to be the first of its kind in the region, is that there's no established license process in St. Louis for this line of work, which means that -- despite the owner's efforts to get proper approvals -- Rack + Clutch for now is constantly at risk of city officials shutting it down.

"The ordinances don't allow for anything like this," Emily Ponath, owner of Rack + Clutch, tells Daily RFT. "People are totally loving it, but the city was hating on me."

Ponath says she was especially frustrated when she heard that Mayor Francis Slay had referred to the "fashion truck and its mobile sisters" as "pirates."

What's the discrepancy here?

Ponath, a 31-year-old Shrewsbury resident, explains to us that she's been doing her best to contact the city and get the permits she needs to operate her truck, which she officially opened last week and has been out for just four days.

emily ponath rack and clutch.jpg
Courtesy of J Elizabeth Photography

"I'm paying taxes," she says, noting that she does have a vehicle vendor license.

That license, however, does not allow to her to park and sell on public streets, which poses a significant obstacle to her business plan.

And she can't get a food truck permit either, because it doesn't apply to her business.

"I'm not a food truck. And I'm not stationary," she says. "I started a mobile boutique. It's a fashion truck -- like a food truck, but with clothes."

On one of her first days, someone from the city told her she had to shut down.

"It's kind of stupid," she says. "There's not currently a permit offered for what I want to do. They have to change the ordinance."

Meanwhile, she and the mayor debated the matter on Twitter, and Slay eventually posted a lengthy Facebook response, which Ponath says she appreciated.

And this morning, Slay tweeted:


The city's argument is that mobile boutiques constitute uncharted territory in St. Louis and that officials need to come up with a fair, reasonable way to license and permit these merchants -- much like they did with food trucks, which are pretty new in the city.

The city says that it's important to have a clear permitting process for these businesses so that they pay their fair share and don't unfairly hurt brick and mortar businesses that sell similar goods and pay taxes and other costs associated with their locations.

Slay, in his message, says he is a committed to finding a compromise.

Continue for more on the fashion truck and Mayor Francis Slay's response.

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19 comments
cjcjcj
cjcjcj

great!  I am so sick of all the online shopping. I want to see people's collections, inspiration. I want to feel fabrics. Let them flourish!!!!!!!!!!!! It is a doorway for smaller scale business to come on the scene and crush it if they got it!!!!

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

Just when you thought the douche bag hipsters behind the food truck (roach coach) fad might give it a rest, now we get a 'fashion truck' (rolling fleamarket).

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

it will be a new way to stimulate the economy.. Here's one Nike on wheels

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

The internet is still by far the best place to sell your goods... maybe outside a festival or parade would be the only reason to have a truck and see any real value imo

jobrienmkt
jobrienmkt

Mayor Slay should be bending over backwards to support any legitimate economic activity anywhere in or near the general vicinity of St. Louis City. Instead he's kind of treating this courageous entrepreneur like, or should I say worse than a drug dealer or homeless person who roam unlicensed all over the city. So let's see elected officials solve existing problems and not create new ones where they don't exist except for what might appear to be for their own political benefit. Democrats have abused one party rule in almost every city in the US. The hubris required to respond this way to a small business owner is stunning and sends a dreadful message to other entrepreneurs thinking of locating downtown. or just wanting to drive around in it.

Lena May
Lena May

The alderman in each district that she would like to set up in has the most pull for overriding these restrictions

Matt Irwin
Matt Irwin

why does the government insist on regulating everything? ??

Lena May
Lena May

I went through the ringer to open my boutique in Soulard. If you are determined to make it work, it will happen. Things take time in city hall.

Holly Harrison
Holly Harrison

I say let them sell their merchandise wherever, however! We need more creative entrepreneurs in this country.

Marc Seleman
Marc Seleman

Good for her!!! Unfortunately city government is always resistent to change. Isn't this what good ole American ingenuity and capitalism is all about?

Jay Wohlert
Jay Wohlert

As long as she's not impeding an existing business, I say go for it.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones

I think it's brilliant. Let them sell! It's innovative and stylish

Derek Polston
Derek Polston

Its the wave of the future quit fighting it, and embrace it

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

why not they sell other consumer goods like food.

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