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Bizzare and Creative Vending Machines

The vending machine industry has been flooded with a myriad of bizarre and creative new services in the last year. According to a recent study by Vending Times, “normal” types of vending machines (candy vending machines, soda vending machine, etc. ) dropped from 134,000 locations and 11% in sales between 2007 and 2010. Still, the vending machine industry makes $42.2 billion a year.

With these somewhat lacking numbers, entrepreneurs have taken a leaf out of the Asian vending machine market. Coin Star, Red Box, and even electronics machines in airports are now all common occurrences in vending machines. Shouldn’t other vendors be catching on? Here are some examples of the creative ways these business-minded folks are re-working the vending machines here in America:

Live Bait

Many tackle and bait shops are now offering live bait vending services for anglers. Instead of driving to the shop, consumers can now pick up their bait of choice right at the pier. Although some are hesitant at first to use the new technology, others find it very convenient to get live bait without driving a long distance to get to the store.

Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs

Doctor’s offices and pharmacies are starting to have prescription drug vending machines. It saves patients the hassle of driving to the pharmacy after the doctor, or waiting in line for their medicine at the pharmacy. In New Zealand, illegal drugs were being sold in a vending machine. This operation was quickly shut down thanks to local law enforcement.


The latest craze in Los Angles is the Cupcake ATM. There are viral videos and pictures online about these famous, quick-serve bakeries. In one photo, the line was 50+ people long when the bakery itself was open!


Another LA craze is the shoe vending machine. For ladies who like to go to dance at the club, it is a convenience item where they can take off their stilettos and order $10 flats rolled up in a tube. They dispense out of the machine in your size of choice so clubbers don’t have to walk down Sunset Blvd. barefoot or in their aching high-heels.

Diaper Bags

Moms are a new target market for airports and their vending options. Diaper bag re-stockers are equipped with wipes, pacifiers, diapers, snacks and much more for moms on the go. Does these have candy vending machines for the little ones? Not so much. The diaper bag vending machine is more marketed to the healthy and proactive mom than what the kids probably really want–candy vending machines.

From fisherman, to geeks, to clubbers, to moms– the vending machine industry is expanding its market. Does this mean an end to the candy vending machine and soda vending machine? We don’t think so. It’s a growing industry but its roots will always be rooted in the need for a quick and inexpensive treat on the go.  What is next for this growing industry? Leave your comments below and let us know your next great idea!