By Dylan Deprey
There can be a lot of duds when it comes to online shopping. Some times that iPhone is little more “gently used” then stated, and that “perfect” 2004 Toyota Camry hasn’t actually seen an oil change in years. From the outrageous to the obscure, with a little faith and elbow grease, there can also be some serious scores.
When Rick Smith saw a post about an old New York Prison bus for sale, he couldn’t help but check it out.
“It was all raggedy and beat up,” he said. “They didn’t know what to do with it.”
From the funky blue paint peeling on the inside, to the rust up-and-under the wheel wells, Smith knew that if he wanted to expand his venture, he’d have to take on the challenge.
Over the past 2 years, Smith had amassed a pizza-craving-cult online.
He opened shop after converting a house near 12th/Ring into a multipurpose business complex for his family. The Loc Down, his wife’s salon, is at the front of the house, while Fladdy’s Pizza is in the kitchen.
His children work the living room turned convenience store, as well as the lemonade/hot-cocoa stand outside.
The construction worker-turned-entrepreneur was looking to take his pizza business mobile. After altering an entire house, a pizza truck was the next step. He worked over six-months renovating the bus into a full-fledged pizza truck, but the cost and licensing was a major factor.
He was stagnant for the moment. It wasn’t until a friend asked to pull the truck out for an event when the true vision of the four-wheeled behemoth was unveiled.
“We were researching and found that we could sell any convenience store item out of the truck,” Smith said. “I’m like we’re registered, and I got this bus sitting back here, so I went and bought everything. I spent all the money I had.”
After a fresh coat of paint, some racks and an entirely new concept, he unveiled the Fladdy’s Snack Box.
He had all of the hot ticket corner store favorites like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Frooties and 50 cent sodas.
It received great reception from the event, for putting the convenience back into the corner store and onto the streets. Over the past month, Smith has taken the bus out to areas where gas stations and corner stores are disrespectful and overcharge faithful patrons.
“I try to be even more respectful because it rubs off on people when you’re treated properly in your own neighborhood,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of kids around here that look up to me just because I say ‘Please,’ and ‘Thank You.’ They’re used to being yelled at and cussed at and I don’t be like that.”
Smith has also made it a point to keep his shelves stocked and the prices reasonable.
“Kids just want to be able to spend a quarter You can’t get anything for a quarter anymore, but on the Fladdy’s Snack Box you can get ten items,” he said. “I’m not trying to dodge anybody or take anything extra away from anybody around here, I’m just trying to give our people a fair shot in the community.”
Though Smith is pretty new to the whole “business owner” thing, he has been making moves securing a central location for Fladdy’s Pizza near Holton and North. His original idea was a fleet of Fladdy’s Pizza buses. Now, he plans to sell slices along with convenience store items from Snack Boxes.
“Everything is real new. I came from construction, and started making a couple pizzas. We’re finally trying to put the vision together. We’ve had the pieces going for a while, but now it’s time,” Smith said.