Author Topic: Vending machines  (Read 4906 times)


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3505
Vending machines
« on: March 21, 2014, 06:42:59 AM »
Does anyone here own a vending machine as a source of low-effort income? 

I ask because my husband has a friend who does this for a living, and I understand he makes big bucks at it.  He owns machines in numerous businesses, and he employs people to go out and stock them.  I think he pays the company a fee (or a percentage of his income) for the right to place his machine in their building.  He really works at it and has a huge number of machines.

But I wonder if just a couple machines, something you could fill yourself one day a week, could be profitable. 

Any thoughts? 


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1301
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Missouri
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2014, 08:21:03 AM »
I don't do this myself, but I can't imagine this is in any way low effort. If you are the only person working, you are going to do a lot of leg work, customer service, networking, and physical labor of moving and then restocking machines regularly. And then if you employ people, well, now you're running a fairly labor intensive business.

It probably is big bucks (or has the potential to be), but I'm sure it's a lot of work.

Ok I know for sure it's big bucks, because my girlfriend does vending machine layouts, for lack of a better term, for the company she works for. But that's for industrial products like gloves, knives, dust masks, etc, not traditional vending products you might be thinking of. And they do make a lot of money off it. But they also have an army of employees around the country who are constantly pushing the machines and trying to get them in new locations.


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1381
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 09:08:59 AM »
This is potentially a scalable business, meaning you could do  little or a lot.  I see three challenges:

- Humping machines around.  They are big and heavy.

- Getting into a good location.  If you have sales talent and will share the revenue, this might not be too tough.

- Be careful who you are competing with.  There are places where the vending business is seen as a very good way to launder money and/or sell stolen goods at retail value.  The people doing so do not take kindly to competition.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 236
    • OurCashHouse
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 09:11:26 AM »
I know someone who does this same thing, but with arcade and DDR machines.


  • Guest
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2014, 02:14:26 PM »
Clearly they make money, otherwise they wouldn't exist.

You'd need to know the cost of the machine, then you'd need to find locations. Maybe smaller local businesses that don't already have one?

Hard to know what the payback on capital investment is, and it would seem incredibly location bound.

Would they need to be licensed by the health department for food and such?


  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5055
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2014, 02:42:18 PM »
I owned one and put it in the building I worked at.  I stocked it with soda and beer.  Beer was the clear winner. I tried to expand but lacked the capital to buy bigger machines, or the connections to get them actually put in at any other places, or the motivation to really find any connections.  Then my company moved from that building and since the boss was now going to be paying for electricity they didn't want me to move it over so I sold it and recouped 100% of the my start up.  I ended up donating the extra beer to my coworkers since I don't drink that stuff, and took all the soda home.  Made a couple hundred bucks during that run though for fairly low effort.  My boss has told me multiple times that he regrets making me get rid of that thing since he likes to drink after work all the time and it was a huge convenience for him since I made sure to keep it fully stocked. 


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 262
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 06:44:56 PM »
I audited someone who ran a vending machine business. It provided a break even business for the middle-aged couple and near minimum wage jobs for their adult children.


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3505
Re: Vending machines
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2014, 06:06:00 AM »
Wow, these answers are all so different -- makes me think that this can be either a good or bad thing, depending upon where /how it's operated. 

Yes, I agree that a large-scale business could be REAL WORK.  I was thinking of just a couple machines in perhaps two locations.  Once they're in place, reloading the machine once a week wouldn't be all that big a chore.  I would not be capable of moving a machine around myself -- probably not even with my husband's help.

I would never in a million years have considered that this is a way to launder money, but you're right that I don't want to be mixed up in anything like that! 

Beer in a vending machine!  Again, I'm surprised.