When the lease of the shop unit she was sharing changed, Lesley Tindle was unsure of her next step.

Taking on more rents and rates meant she wasn’t convinced she could continue trading profitably, but knew there had to be a better way.

“When I researched the huge popularity of food and fashion units in the USA I knew I could do something bigger and better in the UK,” said the 56-year-old.

Bigger and better meant a year-long labour of tests, trials and triumphs working with a south coast vehicle conversion specialist. The result is the complete transformation of an old 26ft Fiat Ducato ex-community bus into a mini boutique, affectionately known as Bertha.

The Boutique in a Bus has eye-catching exteriors which act as an advertising billboard and smart shop interiors including unique “electronic pods” – sides which move out when stationary to double the shopping space inside.

Bertha launched earlier this year at the Bournemouth 7s and spent a busy summer attending south coast events such as the New Forest Show, Carfest and Larmer Tree Festival.

Boutique in a Bus is now securing regular sites across Dorset and can also come to you for a party or special occasion.

“Boutique in a Bus allows me to have total flexibility in the times and locations I can trade, travelling to different customers, events and streets,” says founder Lesley.

“I no longer have to rely on the same footfall past my window that a fixed premises would dictate, as I move my shop to where the people are.”

Lesley believes that innovations such as this may be key to tempting consumers back on board.

“There have been many changes in high street shopping from the increase of the big chains which only give you corporate visuals, no individuality, reduced bus routes, parking issues, all meaning reduced footfall. However ladies still love to shop, we all want to see and feel the goods. Online shopping, although convenient, misses that,” she explains.

“Retail trends show that shoppers want to interact more with retailers across multiple channels - from store to web and across social and mobile platforms.

“I am adding a bus to that list. The response so far has been phenomenal - people love Bertha from the outside and adore the products and prices inside.”

The company now hopes to expand across the UK through franchising.

“Designing and refurbishing Boutique in a Bus and sourcing the stock has enabled me to learn what works best at every stage,” says Lesley.

“We plan to replicate these skills, knowledge and Boutique in a Bus ‘Bertha’ herself for other would-be fashion business owners.”

Find out more at boutiqueinabus.com.