A vendor is someone who sells, and a vending machine is described in one dictionary as ‘a machine that dispenses small items in exchange for a coin’. That definition might have to change now that vending machines do so much more. A vending machine business for sale may have much greater possibilities than the sale of bubble gum.
It is said that the first vending machine sold holy water outside temples hundreds of years ago, but the industry really took off with the Industrial Revolution. When a large concentration of people were gathered in various places and the idea of having a mechanical sales person working twenty-four hours a day was too good to let slip.
Many people recall wrestling with recalcitrant machines. After inserting a coin one would stand foolishly looking at an inert machine that gave no sign of giving up its can of Coke. A few tentative thumps would grow increasingly violent; to be followed by vicious kicks and attempts to pick up the machine and hurl it to the ground.
More infuriating was the machine that would loosen a can of drink and allow in to slide down a chute to just above the point where it was due to fall into the hopper where it would be accessible. Alas, it would stick fast at that point and never be retrieved.
The reliability of vending machines has improved steadily with the growth of the industry. One can feed quite large denomination notes into machines now and confidently stand back, while a parking ticket is delivered and accurate change trickles in a hopper.
Growth and development of the industry has led to sound business opportunities within it. Machines may be bought or rented from a number of reliable manufacturers. There are also franchise schemes which allow an investor to enter the industry on a collaborative basis with brand owners or machine owners who will secure sites and provide machines. It is estimated that vending machines owners may earn as much as $70 an hour from each of their machines.
The well-known joke about the blond girl who fed coins into a sweet dispenser thinking that she was winning every time a sweet came out, has an ironic undertone. In fact millions of people do feed coins into gambling devices that sell mainly hope.
From hope, to cash, to condoms and now live Shanghai Hairy Crabs, the kaleidoscope of products mechanically dispensed grows exponentially. As society becomes more complex, so the number of exciting opportunities expands. The profits may be great, but will vary according to overheads like costs, rental arrangements and wholesale prices.
But the most crucial consideration in profitability is the sites of machines. They need to be selling products at points where many people pass by with latent need for what is for sale. The shortage of sites, the critical importance of them for profitability and the growing competition from operators for the best ones make this the main challenge the buyer of a vending businesses for sale will face.