The last decade has seen the typical ISO shipping container raise its profile not only as an important foundational block of an increasingly busy and necessary international logistics world but also as an easy and affordable place to run a business.

Over the years we have seen many examples of retail shipping container conversions, with some such as Hatch in Manchester becoming phenomenally successful and iconic social hubs, with a lot of organisations and institutions wanting to try their hand at creating something special.

Whilst practicality and affordability are a major part of this, authenticity is also a key appeal, with the idea that a retailer does not need to focus on the structure or design of their shipping container building and can instead focus on the quality of their goods.

Bob Kessler, a man based in Frisco, Texas, had the same dream himself, but in attempting to realise it he ended up in a two-year war with his local planning council.


Bob’s Dollar Store

Draped in wooden panelling and covered in a variety of curios and bric-a-brac, Bob’s Dollar Store was part of the Frisco native’s plan to become a travelling merchant, using the container as a home base for a cooler-equipped bicycle he planned to use to sell ice cream to nearby denizens.

During 2020, his goal was simply to put smiles on people’s faces rather than make any serious money, but before the year was out, nobody was laughing when Frisco issued a notice of violation.

The issue is twofold, but the more serious issue was that the town sees the container as a permanent structure located on council property, allegedly impeding public works such as snow removal, although Mr Kessler denied that this was the cause, arguing that it is an attack on “the little guy”.

After two years of legal wrangling, a municipal court judge found in favour of the town in August 2022, demanding that it was either moved or converted into a trailer, which would allow it to remain as a temporary structure.

Mr Kessler initially claimed that this only meant that he load it onto a conventional trailer, but this was later denied in court.

After several more months of back-and-forth, Judge Ronald Carlson had enough and issued an order for possession, meaning that the court could legally seize and sell the shipping container at a total cost of £7000, including the cost of transportation, hiring a crane and an appraisal of its sale value.

Before that day comes, Mr Kessler plans to sell all of its contents in a fire sale, complete with a fire pit and lights to create a rather interesting spectacle to end the shipping container’s saga and begin its somewhat more mundane next chapter.

He still plans to launch the bicycle business, selling a range of esoteric goods on a bicycle and riding up and down the main street of Frisco, with a prospective launch date of Summer 2023.

Hopefully at some point before then the saga with the shipping container will be resolved.

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