Airstreams as Stores

An Airstream being used as a mobile retail outlet.

An Airstream being used as a mobile retail outlet.

Airstream travel trailers are the most recognizable camping trailers in the world. Iconic, shiny, built to last, and crazy-cool, the Airstream brand has been inextricably linked with America and the outdoors since its founder and designer, Wally Byam, first used the name Airstream to describe his trailers in 1934. When asked why, Byam declared, “because that’s the way they travel, like a stream of air.”

In 1948, Byam opened his Van Nuys, California, Airstream factory. Ten years later, the Jackson Center, Ohio, factory opened, and it is now the place where all Airstream trailers are manufactured.

In campgrounds across the nation, Airstreams are everywhere–National Parks, forests, KOAs, and RV stops. It is a solid trailer, which can be used in four seasons of weather (this cannot be said for most travel trailers). Its shiny aluminum hull is what makes the Airstream so indestructible. You might need to update the plumbing and electric after 20 or 30 years, but the exterior will only need polishing to be road-ready. Airstreams are starting to show up in urban areas as something altogether different, thanks to creative small business owners.

Recently the Airstream has found a second life as a rolling retail outlet, restaurant, or coffee shop. The adaptive reuse of the trailer into something else besides a camper shows just how well made these trailers are. In fact, the Airstream has become so popular as a rolling retail unit that it could be possible for the company to start selling empty or minimally built trailers keeping in mind the intention to create a retail space.

Below find links to some of our favorite adaptive reuses of this iconic trailer:

The Urban Cottage, Dallas, Texas

The Movi Boutique, Kansas City, Missouri

The Gray Dog Vintage Boutique, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Hitch Couture, Los Angeles, California

Aether, San Francisco, California

Skillet Street Food, Seattle, Washington


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4 Responses to Airstreams as Stores

  1. Marsha Hayes Walker August 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Clever ideas, and the article is just right. Well done.

  2. Julia Cozby August 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Thanks Marsha! I love Airstream trailers.

  3. Nick Cambron March 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Here is an airstream that was turned into a mobile boutique, Curb Apparel Boutique.

    Take a look

    • Julia Cozby March 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      Adorable! Love the lace dress–thanks for sharing.

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