Shipping containers are a great way to up-cycle, reduce your carbon footprint, and start a small business with low start-up costs. If you’re ready to start your dream business, consider the following small businesses that you can start in a shipping container:
Vacation Rental Home
Shipping containers can be used to build eco-friendly and trendy homes. You can build one or several homes in single-family or multi-family configurations. These can be rented out to tourists and vacationers or even long-term renters. The income from a single vacation rental could be used to expand into a small resort or multi-unit guesthouse. The only limit would be your imagination.
A coffee shop or bakery could be a great option for a shipping container business as it does not require much working space, and you could set up a covered patio for extra seating. You can even set it up as a cafe that serves coffee, other drinks, and bakery items.
Similar to the coffee shop, your actual bar/serving area would not require much space for working, and the rest of the container space could be used as customer seating. In addition, you could add more seating by including a covered patio adjacent to the bar.
A shipping container could work very well for an event venue. You could rent out the space for pop-up shops, art exhibits, small dinners, small parties, speaking engagements, etc. You could also use the venue to host your own events when the space is not booked by other clients to generate extra income.
Small, Exclusive Restaurant
Everyone loves to feel special, and the offer of exclusivity is a great way to make someone feel special. Think about the small restaurants that are booked months in advance. This restaurant concept would be easier to manage and could cut down on food costs.
Trendy, Clothing Store
Many designers or clothing retailers start out small, and you could totally start your flagship clothing store in a shipping container. As your business grows, you can add more containers to expand the store.
Dog Grooming Salon
Many people pay to delegate the task of cleaning and grooming their dog. Some breeds require more skilled maintenance, some dog owners are busy, and others would just prefer to have someone else clean their canines. Either way, it could be a great business for you.
Hair Salon/Nail Salon
Hair salons and nail salons are popular in most areas. They don’t require much space, and you can even rent out the “chairs” to other stylists.
Co-working spaces are becoming more popular as more workers move toward remote work and entrepreneurship. A shipping container or two could easily be fashioned into co-working spaces. You could add more containers as your business grows and you could even include a kitchen/lounge area and a covered outdoor space with communal seating to balance the indoor space.
Many people still enjoy reading real books (as opposed to digital ones), and a book shop would fit perfectly into a shipping container. Many would love the unique concept, and your business would definitely stand out. As business picks up, you could outfit the book shop with a seating area (indoor or outdoor) and possibly even a small kitchen for coffee or tea.
As you can see, the sky is the limit when it comes to the types of small businesses that you can start in a shipping container. Your business could start small and grow to several locations. During the planning phase make sure to research shipping container designs, ventilation, and wiring for electricity and plumbing.
Davenport Laroche is a leading shipping container investment agency based out of Hong Kong.