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Itinerant trade: why the phenomenon is restarting on the hats of wheels


“My horn is broken, so when I approach my customers, well I call them! ” Logic. Potentially perilous when you’re behind the wheel, but logical… When you know all your customers. This is the case of Bertrand Pasquereau, the shopkeeper on tour for around thirty kilometers and around twenty customers.

Oil, sardines, apples and leeks

He knows his customers so well in this corner of the countryside between Rougnac and Villebois-Lavalette, where a medieval castle dominates the farmland, that he could recite their shopping list. On that of Jacqueline Fort, whom fate and a marriage have fixed here, 6 kilometers from her native village, Combiers, whom she has never seen again, appear: oil, sardines, red apples and leeks. But Bertrand will only come back in a week, so his suggestions are welcome. The basket is a bit heavier with a few Brussels sprouts, eggs, pork cheeks and a stew of wild boar which will not appear on his bill.


Isabelle and Bertrand Pasquereau are betting on touring to sustain their multiservice business

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“The wild boar stew is me who cooked it, so I offer it because I know she likes it”, explains Bertrand. A gift that will perhaps make you forget the tears that came to Jacqueline’s eyes when, during a conversation, she mentioned the relationships, unfortunately too little maintained, with relatives, yet immediate neighbors.

In a locality – Chez Bernard – whose name says a lot about the number of inhabitants, the customer, a farmer, will not go out. “I arrive later than usual, he is on the farm”, concludes Bertrand. The next client is Réjane, who has returned home after a life as a wife and mother in Grenoble. The husband is bedridden, victim of a stroke. “The truck is very practical, it allows me to carry out all the essential errands without leaving it. Since the first confinement, we have been regular customers, ”she explains, placing four “essential” Liégeois chocolates in her copiously filled basket.

The moment of the “painful” does not make her wince. “Quality and service matter more than price. Frankly, going 10 kilometers to make these purchases would cost me more! Bertrand appreciates this comment which will never appear on any internet search engine.

The two rounds per week represent 10 to 15% of the turnover of the activity of the multiservice grocery store in Rougnac.

The two rounds per week represent 10 to 15% of the turnover of the activity of the multiservice grocery store in Rougnac.

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“It was an essential service”

Nothing predestined Bertrand and his wife, Isabelle, to one day make rounds in a grocery truck. The two forty-somethings left the Vendée and the agri-food industry to revive the commercial heart of Rougnac, a Charente village of 400 souls. Ten years ago, they rekindled the sign of a multiservices store that had been off for two years. A business whose name, La Détente, poorly illustrates the hard work of its managers. La Détente is a service station, a bar-restaurant and a grocery store.

The truck and its tours hit the road six years ago. “It was an essential service for customers without vehicles, who are often not very mobile. Reinforced by the Covid crisis, this service provides us with between 10 and 15% of grocery store turnover, there is no question of stopping this dynamic. »

80,000 stores criss-cross France

A dynamic that will go through a successor to the J9 on the ball joints. “We bought, with the help of the recovery plan which covers 50% of the amount, a truck at 45,000 euros excluding tax. It should be delivered to us next July… It’s a bet on the future! »

A bet that 80,000 traders have tried. Many more will join them. Manufacturers’ delivery times are getting longer and illustrate the phenomenon. Major brands, such as Grand Frais (300 trucks) are launching. Hairdressers, opticians, restaurateurs follow. This trade, which was said to be old-fashioned, the confinements and the attraction for entrepreneurship, the thirst for retraining combined with the commercial desertification of rural territories, have revived it.



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