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Candy to Toys – The Big Switch Part1

If someone told you to make more money by doing things differently, would you do it? This is the challenge that presented itself to me a few months ago, and since then I have been turning my business over to focus more on toys and other “non-edible” products.

Because I’m in the middle of the switch myself, I’ll show you some fast and easy ways to get started, some product suggestions, and more importantly, what NOT to do.

The choice to add toys to your lineup isn’t a question of right or wrong, but of personal preference. I know very successful bulk vendors who have relied on candy triples to push them to financial success, while others stand by toys alone. Personally, I’ve chosen to maintain my candy route while adding toys to it, and this allows you to expand into new territories, while remaining within your comfort zone as a vendor. The beauty of this business is the freedom it offers- you can change your business at your pace however you like, and there is no right or wrong way about it.

The pros and cons of vending toys:

Pro-

  • Toys have a near-indefinite shelf life. They do not expire.
  • Toys can be sold for higher prices than candy or gum.
  • Toys can be sold where candy is prohibited.
  • Toys allow for “repeat” customers trying for the toy they want
  • Toys are easier to regulate than candy, 1 vend = 1 toy as opposed to all the guesswork and wheel settings with candy.

Con-

  • Toy machines are more difficult to find used, and are consistently more expensive than candy machines.
  • Toy setups are almost always larger than candy setups, and are more difficult to place at locations.
  • Toys are generally commission only, usually ranging from 25-50% Net, or 15-25% gross as an average for rack setups.
  • Toys take a lot of space. It came as quite a shock to me, but a few product selections will fill up a lot of space.

Getting started is easy. Many new vendors have already done it without realizing it. The first step for me was a simple toy that has sold well for decades, and doesn’t require any special equipment. The humble 27 millimeter rubber bouncy ball will vend with a standard gumball vend wheel, and they sell amazingly well to kids. For me, I chose bouncy balls as an alternative to gum, many locations are opposed to gum, and if you want to place a machine, this is a fine alternative. On top of this, depending on your area and your machine configuration, you can charge 50 cents for these balls, doubling your profits. It is very difficult to do that with candy. Bouncy balls are inexpensive, and unlike candy, prices rarely fluctuate. Bouncy balls were a logical first step for me, and they can easily add more revenue to your route without too much difficulty.

Some bouncy ball tips-

1. If the location has a lot of kid traffic, you are going to sell a lot of these balls. A lot of vendors who add them to triples or other multi-compartment machines complain that they will find the machines are low or even empty after a 30 or 60 day service cycle. These machines lack the capacity to be effective in high-traffic spots, so plan accordingly. A quick fix for many is to buy a standalone single head gumball machine on a separate stand, and place it next to your multi-compartment machine. An inexpensive used machine found on Craigslist will be more than sufficient.

2. A good mix makes money! A great advantage toys have over candy is the repeat customer. If a kid buys a bouncy ball, but doesn’t get the one they “wanted” then they may opt to buy another ball in hopes of better luck getting what they want. Make sure your mix is colorful, and has some “special” balls in it to catch the kids’ attention. My favorite brands are A&A global, and Top Notch Toys. In my opinion, their mixes are the highest quality for the lowest prices, and include a great variety the kids love.

3. Label your machines. Oftentimes bouncy balls do not come with labels, as bouncy balls are pretty self-explanatory. However, the last thing a vendor wants is a lawsuit. Buy or make some simple labels- “Bouncy Balls” and a generic choking warning should be sufficient in most locations. Check with your local authorities to see if you require special provisions for this.

4 Do NOT mix your bouncy balls with your gumballs. Some vendors have tried this, and the results are nothing short of disastrous. Never mix them together.

Now that you know where to start, the next step up is the capsule. In this business there are four “main” types of capsules, though more obscure “specialty” types do exist.

1. The 27mm round capsule- these will vend from a gumball machine as well, but the toys included are very small, and the selection of products is very limited. Only the bigger brands carry these, and seasoned toy vendors report they sell “okay” but not nearly as well as the bigger acorn capsules.

2. The 1.1″ acorn capsule- the acorn capsule is a staple of the bulk industry, and there are hundreds of varieties of toys to choose from in this format. These require a capsule vending wheel to vend properly, but they are easily obtained.

3. The 2″ capsule- the “big” capsule commands nearly all of the big ticket items. These items typically start at 50 cents, and work their way up to $1.00 in cost. Again, there are hundreds of options to choose from. To vend these capsules though, you will need a 2″ capsule machine.

4. “Egg” capsules- Akin to the plastic eggs sold around Easter, these are typically used in specialty vendors such as ParSal’s “All American Chicken” machine, but are found in other large toy mixes as well. These will vend properly from a standard 2″ capsule machine.

Go to Candy to Toys – The Big Switch Part2

Comments

  1. Decaturjack says:

    Good work AJ!

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