The story behind inside East Austin’s little blue truck

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Photo Credit: Samantha Dorisca | Daily Texan Staff

Owned by Bibi Kemper, the Truck houses a small imports shop that sells goods from India, Southeast Asia and North Africa. Each piece is handpicked by Kemper, who, despite having settled down and opening up shop in 2017, said she is still a gadabout at heart.

“Gadabout is an old English word,” Kemper said. “It means ‘one who travels for pleasure.’”

After moving around the United States as a child, Kemper discovered her love for traveling after moving to India in 2001. From India, she explored Europe and Asia until finally moving back to the U.S., where she said she found herself in a toxic work environment.

“I was bottoming out. I needed to do something that inspired me,” Kemper said. “I kept thinking about imports because I’ve always wanted to do that, but I didn’t know how.”

On her way to work one day, Kemper passed a man selling flowers in a Volkswagen bus. Although she passed him many times before, this time inspiration struck, she said.

“I thought ‘Oh my god, this is how I could do it. I could take out loans and get credit cards, and I could get the money to sell imports from a truck,’” Kemper said.

With a new mindset, Kemper moved to Austin and found a website for a truck shop in Colorado. Falling in love with the truck’s aesthetic, Kemper revisited the website later to find the truck for sale.

“I thought ‘This is an omen. I must follow it because it’s now or never,’” Kemper said. “So, I bought the truck.”

Kemper said the truck aligns with her business’ nomadic nature.

Keeping in the gadabout spirit, Kemper said her shop fills a unique niche in Austin by selling products not typically seen in the city.

“She has lots of different things (Austin) doesn’t have,” Jerome Faulkner, truck owner of J. Leonardi’s Barbeque, neighbor to Gadabout Goods said. “She’s a genuine person and she’s got a good heart.”

One of her top priorities, Kemper said, is only buying from places she’s been and people she’s met.

“I’ve met people who sell lovely things from places they’ve never been to, and I feel like that’s inauthentic,” Kemper said.

As Kemper learns each artist’s story and the history behind the pieces, she writes the information down on handmade cards to include with each customer’s purchase.

“I try to pass on a personal connection and take some anonymity out of shopping to make it a more unique and thoughtful experience for people,” Kemper said.

After buying one of Kemper’s favorite rings, customer and tourist Yvonne Tyree said she loves the shop’s concept and Kemper’s knowledge of the products.

“Her connection definitely affected what I bought because when you hear the history, then you understand what you’re wearing,” Tyree said.

After searching markets for the aesthetic she wants and ensuring the pieces are of good quality, Kemper said she actively searches out women to support across the world from her little blue truck.

“The goal is that I can continue to support artists and bring new pieces in but also, have things people really love,” Kemper said.