The 9 Hottest Shipping Container Business Ideas for 2019


  1. Mobile Restaurant

Shipping containers give restaurants something they never had before, a building they can move. Typically, when someone wants to start a new restaurant or change locations, the owner would need to find a new location to either lease or buy the new space. Then, they invest thousands in renovating the space and customizing the kitchen for their specific menu. This process can be costly. But when the restaurant can move with you, your options are wide open. Mobile restaurants can be used for seasonal offerings, renovating existing restaurants, testing new locations, project-based contracts, or used as a contingency plan if your current location doesn’t work out. Chick Fil A used their mobile restaurant to keep customers happy and workers employed during restaurant renovations.

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  1. Eye-Catching Entry Way

For mixed-use properties, it’s important to visually differentiate your retail development from the alternatives. Experiential retail isn’t only about finding ways to integrate smart technology and virtual reality into your floor plans. It’s about creating a start-to finish experience. Tribridge Residential and The Shopping Center Group did just that when they used a shipping container tower at the entrance of ONE305 Central’s new retail and restaurant pavilion.

  1. Tech Integrated Micro-Retail Space

These days, real estate is at a premium and retail spaces are becoming less efficient. Once, large footprints meant more room for customers. Today, excess space can’t produce the same revenue levels tenants have come to expect. Shipping Containers give retailers an affordable micro-footprint that provides plenty of room for customers to shop, interact with product, and engage with POS content. Micro retail means shops won’t be required to maintain the same levels of inventory, pay rent for the storage space, or insure their stock. By integrating technology packages, customers can shop in the store and order online making their journey feel seamless.


  1. Monetize vacant lots and unused space

What does it really take to make money off your existing real estate? If you’re interested in leasing space to businesses, that means constructing a permanent building, complete with ties into municipality water and power. Once it’s there, it’s there. There’s no moving a building without demolishing it. But what about plots that are too small or inappropriately shaped to fit a building? Shipping containers don’t need municipal power and water. Although they can be tied into local utilities, they can also run off a generator and water tank. Containers can fit into tight spaces between buildings, in a parking space, or in an open space for temporary use.

  1. Playgrounds and Placemaking

One way that shipping containers stand out against other forms of construction is their unique ability to engage people and spark their imagination. What better way to inspire a community than to give them a place where they may congregate, exchange ideas, and make memories? That’s exactly what Groundswell Design Group and Memphis River Park Partnership did when they installed their shipping container playground in Memphis’s Fourth Bluff.

  1. Community Development and Non-Profit

Local governments are looking for ways to stimulate their economies. They want to drive residents to local businesses and common spaces. One example is the Lunch Box in Camden, NJ. The restaurant provides a modern and welcoming place that attracts people to one of NJ’s underutilized parks. The café is a lunch-focused grab and go food outpost located in Roosevelt Plaza Park. They serve soups, salads, and sandwiches.

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  1. Product Launches and Sampling

Most brands face the same challenge. People want to try it before they buy it. When asked by Sampling Advisors, “What would induce you to try a new product or brand?”, 73% of consumers said, “product sample.” So, sampling is a no-brainer solution for food brands to launch products or enter new retail channels. Shipping containers provide a turnkey, mobile solution for brands executing product launch and sampling tours.

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  1. Short-Term Incubator for retail and food service

Malls are struggling to get people in the doors. One solution that retail property managers and developers are exploring is turning malls “inside-out.” Essentially, this process exploits green space and underutilized parking spot to place new and exciting retail options outside of the mall. While these small spaces aren’t as attractive for anchor tenants who already have massive footprints, it does provide opportunities for small and local businesses to test products and engage new customers.  Here’s what One Loudoun in Virginia did with some extra green space outside their mall.

One Loudoun Shipping Containers

  1. Office space you can take with you


If you’ve ever moved offices, you can probably empathize with our client, Printful. Companies move for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re growing too fast for your current facility or maybe your lease is up. Either way, the process of making a new space ready for employees can be stressful and difficult. And all that work you put in the last place? Gone. You’re starting from scratch. That’s where containers come in. The modular units can “plug-and-play” with a new space. So, the investment you make in customizing the space for your company’s needs isn’t wasted when the lease is up. You can just pack it up and take it with you.

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