So You Want to Start a Business? Why Not a Hot Dog Stand?

"How do you make a hot dog stand? Take away its chair."My 9 year old neighbor

If you're entrepreneurial, a hot dog pushcart is a pretty inexpensive way to start your own business. For $20 you can buy plans on the internet to build your own cart from about $500 worth of parts. For less than $2,000 you can get a pretty nice professionally built cart, and for $10,000 you can get a fancy trailer in which two people can stand and work. There are even large trucks with commercial kitchens available in the $100,000 range.

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The wholesale cost of a quality hot dog is about 20¢, a bun costs about 10¢, and the condiments cost about 10¢ per sandwich. That makes your cost about 40¢ each. If you can move volume, you can buy for less. Typical resale price in Chicago is about $1.95, so your gross is about $1.45 per sale.

If you sell 200 hot dogs per day, 360 days per year (hey, take some holidays off), you would sell 72,000 dogs per year and could gross over $100,000 (not including soft drinks, chips, etc.). That's cash money. No credit cards or checks. To stay open this much you'll need a high traffic spot, indoors, and employees.

Subtract your overhead: Payroll, napkins, propane, rent, license fees, freebies for the cops, and other supplies, and there's still a decent profit for a pretty small upfront investment and a lotta work. Oh yes, don't forget to subtract from the profit the dogs you eat yourself.

Here are some suppliers who sell pushcarts and vending trucks:

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Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

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