Start Up a Bulk Route; My best Advice for Newcomers Part 1

Bulk Vending is defined as a method of vending candies, toys, and other trinkets through coin-operated dispensaries. This method of vending is the other side of the more common vending conception of electro-mechanical vending such as Soda and snack machines. A lot of people ask me how they can get started in this interesting, dynamic industry, and I’ll usually tell them it takes a lot of patience and careful research. However, I have some good starter tips for anyone starting a new bulk vending route from scratch.

Start Small

A lot of people will say you have to start with a lot of machines. This is not true, and I don’t recommend anyone going into this industry, as a newcomer, start with more than a couple machines. For starters, vending is not for everyone. I have seen lots of newcomers tout their shiny new machines, and how they’re going to be the next vending mogul- and then they drop the whole endeavor after they hit a bump in the road. Maybe they don’t like locating. Maybe they don’t like service calls, or jams, or the record keeping, but the result is the same. This industry isn’t for them. It would be better to learn that it isn’t for you if you have one machine rather than 100.

Start Cheap, but Smart

I say start cheap and smart, but most people give me strange looks at that point. How can cheap be smart? Well, this is where the research comes into play. So, imagine you’re a new vendor with zero machines and zero experience. You have a choice to make for your first machines- some shiny new Amerivend candy machines, or some used Oak Vistas from the mid 1980’s for a little less? The traditional line of thought would be to buy a new machine- it’s a little more expensive, but it’s new- nothing can go wrong there! Or so it seems. Too many vendors follow this logic into a hole of debt and junk- they buy some shiny machine that’s poorly manufactured, and then they’re stuck with them. Used vending machines from name brands like Oak, Beaver, Northwestern, A&A and so on are still on the market because they are still supported by their respective companies, and built to last a lot longer than machines imported and then discontinued a few years later. In order to come to the “smart” conclusion, the new vendor must commit to doing some research on what sort of machines they want, and how they are going to get them. Sadly, many don’t want to bother with that, to their peril.

Start with what works

I differ in opinion with a lot of operators on this one. Many will insist that new operators dive into racks and toys from the onset. There are some who have done their research, know what to do, and have done this successfully. However, others aren’t so lucky- so my advice to new vendors is to start with what is more likely to work. Start with candy or gumballs, the products are cheap, can be purchased at any club store,  and can be placed at more locations than toy setups. You won’t need large vehicles, large storage spaces, or vast numbers of components on hand. You can always move up to toys and larger units later when you are ready.

Locate your contacts

One thing I noticed was that after newcomers would “discover” a  locating service, they would latch onto it, and they’d never try locating again. However, in order to operate a successful bulk route, you cannot rely solely on a hired service to find all of your spots for you- at a considerable cost I might add. I have used locators, and they are hit and miss- I maintain that the best bulk vending locations will be found by you, the operator. Self locating, or the art of going out and getting your own spots in person or cold calling, isn’t easy. Public speaking is very difficult for many individuals, and rejections are never pleasant. An easy way to ease into the business is to place your bulk equipment at places you frequent, or are affiliated with people you know. My first location was in a photography studio owned by a family friend. It was far from a good location, but gave me the practice and confidence I needed to go and get more places. Start with who you know and where you frequent, and go from there.

{Start Up a Bulk Route; My best Advice for Newcomers Part 2}

Alex Macomber is the operator of Performa Vending, and a writer for He can also be found anytime at the Bulk Vending Forum where vendors of every sort are welcome. Drive him nuts by emailing him at

Speak Your Mind