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Charleston, WV entrepreneur hopes to get help from public

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Sam Canterbury has lived in urban areas across the country and noticed they all have one thing in common — street food vendors.

But when Canterbury, 29, moved to Charleston last year, he noticed the Capitol City didn't have access to the same kind of on-the-go lunch spots prevalent in larger areas. So he got an idea.

"I've always wanted to kind of have a little café or something, but this gave me a route to be something that's a bit more edgy," Canterbury said. "There are people here with local eateries, but I thought why limit yourself to brick and mortar when you can pick up and move?"

Although the idea is about a year old, Canterbury is still working on getting his creation, Spork:Truck, off the ground. He has set up at Charleston's East End Bazaar a couple of times, but he admits his truck could use a little TLC. So he's turning to the public for help.

Today, Canterbury will begin accepting donations through crowdfunding site indiegogo.com. Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows the public to donate to causes, ideas and businesses to help meet a certain goal. Canterbury said that although people in today's society don't seem helpful, crowdfunding sites help bring out the best in people and allow them to become part of something bigger — be it a film, community project or small business.

"I want to be in as little debt as possible," Canterbury said. "I didn't want to go through the (Small Business Administration). There are multiple outlets there for funding, but I didn't want to be in debt. I feel like I can have more of a sense of accomplishment if I could do it on my own or make it a community project. People who eat there can feel like they helped build this. They can have some sort of ownership."

Canterbury said he'd like to raise between $6,000 and $10,000. All of the funds will be spent on sprucing up his truck, purchasing equipment and obtaining the appropriate permits and licenses. And because he doesn't operate a traditional restaurant, overhead costs are low.

"I can take my whole entire restaurant to fairs and festivals," he said. "The overhead is a lot less. I don't have to worry about multiple employees."

Canterbury said he generally has two people working with him, one in the morning and another in the evening. And those who buy their lunches or dinners from Spork won't have to worry about paying too much, either.

"This is the food for everyday people," he said. "The everyday average person can come eat and get a nutritious, wholesome meal. It's not necessarily extremely healthy, but it's healthier (than processed foods)."

Canterbury said he attempts to source his food locally as much as possible.

The young entrepreneur said he hopes the popularity of his business model and the crowdfunding campaign inspires others to think outside the box and help make Charleston a better place.

"A lot of people move, go to college, but then they don't come back necessarily," he said. "There are not a lot of entrepreneurs trying to come back and open up businesses. I feel like the more there is for the younger generation to have a reason to stay, other than home pride or state pride. It could be an economic boost to the city."

To donate to Spork:Truck visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/spork-a-mobile-food-truck-for-charleston. The campaign begins today and will last 30-45 days.

For information, find Spork:Truck on Facebook.