Why do people like vending machines, apart from the convenience? There is something magical about putting money in a machine and pulling a lever and getting a treat. I’m in control and I can take my time making a selection, unless someone is waiting behind me, and it’s hard to define but I just find it satisfying to use vending machines. It has the allure of a slot machine maybe except that a vending machine pays off; every time.
As far as a relatively low cost way to start your own business, vending machines are a very good option. You don’t need to learn a whole lot and it is a cheap start up, as cheap as you want it to be. You can start a route with no upfront outlay, assuming that you have good credit and some kind of equity. You can lease machines. Or you can start out with small mechanical gumball type machines.
You can have a home office, and a garage would probably be a good idea. A van would be useful. You would likely figure on a six month start up, to turn a profit, but that’s okay because if you start slow it would not be terribly time consuming. You would need a business license and to find locations that would accept a machine. And the business is a great tax write-off. You are your own boss, another benefit. You work alone, at least initially, and that could be good if you are self reliant.
The great thing about starting out with gumball type vending machines is that you don’t need power outlets—they cost nothing to run. I’ve seen these types of machines everywhere, in a video store for instance. They take up almost no space; the owner had them right on the front checkout counter. There were these toys in plastic egg shaped containers and I got a Sponge Bob Square-pants rubber key chain thing, which I still have.
Now we have talked about vending machines but along the same lines are those kids’ rides outside of shopping centers and picture taking machines, almost limitless possibilities. This is a business that you can get into for a couple of thousand dollars and as I said, it’s possible to get in with no cash down, two thousand dollars or anywhere up to several hundred thousand dollars.
You can get used and refurbished machines. There is little attrition on the machines, fairly low maintenance. Your start up costs are buying or leasing the machine and the stock.
In 2008 Americans spent 60 billion in vending machines. Where do venders get stock? Some good places are Sam’s club, Costco, BJ’s.
I found a lot of helpful information in the Internet, I see where one machine that has three dispensers, the kind where you turn the knob clockwise and it dumps gumballs or redhots or peanuts into the hopper, and can be bought brand new for $159.00. There is a much bigger mixed drink and snack dispenser for $3398.00. And this includes shipping. It’s probably better to get used or refurbished machines to start out with.
Look up fruit flavored fish candy and you can get an 11,000 count for $37.98, and this stuff won’t spoil either; or assorted gumballs, but they don’t give a count, $29.98.
This seems like a really solid business with major potential. I can see getting into this myself when I make my move to Vancouver Island later this year, nice little business, extra money, as big as I want it to be.
Jesse Kaellis is a full-time writer, published author and resident blogger for Vending World. He writes for many online publications such as One Wealthy Team and Menshealth Direct. His autobiography Early Out was published by SmashWords after shortlisting on the Simon Fraser University First Book Contest in conjunction with Anvil Press (Vancouver, Canada).