Buying a Vending Machine Business

November 17, 2022

How to Invest in a Profitable Vending Machine

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How to Invest in a Profitable Vending Machine

Unconventional Acquisitions

November 17, 2022

Remember the days when you’d spend the $5.00 your parents gave you for lunch money on gobstoppers and Gatorade from the school’s vending machine?

Your dentist definitely does.

From that point forward, you probably assumed that those vending machines were owned by the school… the hospital… or wherever else you’ve indulged in a quick treat.

But fun fact: most aren’t. They’re owned by independent business owners—no different than me and you—who are looking to make an extra buck or two (or thousands).


Watch: How Our Friend Quinn Makes $10k/Month With His Vending Machine Biz Spending 10 Hours Per Month!


According to Small Biz Genius, the vending machine market in the US was worth $36.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $146.6 billion by 2027. 

Yeah, BILLION. With a capital B. 

Vending machines may seem like a serious snooze, but those numbers are something to get excited about. There are a million and two more reasons why we love vending machines so much. 

With little to no maintenance required and minimal overhead costs, this business venture could be exactly what you’ve been looking for to expand your portfolio. 

Follow the 4 Simple Steps:

  1. Determine the Machine
  2. Get Financing – Deep Dive in Unit 5 of the Course
  3. Source the Location – Weekly calls on sourcing in our Mastermind
  4. Stocking the Right Inventory

★ Fun Fact 1- We Broke Down Deep Dive Seller Financing Structure for Biz Acquisition in Our Biz Buying Masterclass.

★ Fun Fact 2- We Do Weekly Live Deal Sourcing Training Calls on Our UA Mastermind.


Here’s what you need to know before you start building up your vending machine empire. 

1. Figure Out What Type of Machine You Want.

Believe it or not, you can sell more than just chips and soda in a vending machine. 

Chocolate bars? Hot bevvys? Healthy snacks? Cupcakes? iPhones? Ice? Cars… yes, nowadays there are even vending machines for cars. 

It may seem excessive, but these businesses are raking in the cash. Take my friend, Brett, for example, who makes an extra $71K per year by selling ice (a.k.a. frozen. water.) on the side of the freeway.

What we love about Brett’s situation is…1) the amount of passive income he’s pulling in and 2) how much work is involved for him to make this much money (spoiler alert: it’s verrrrry little).

This isn’t another one of those gimmicky “this could be you” stories. This actually isn’t too hard to pull off. 

Of course, there’s more to consider here than what type of machine could be the most lucrative. You also need to really think about *who* your target market is and what kind of goodies they’d really want. 

For example, if you’re thinking about setting up shop in a hospital, selling coffee or sugary-y snacks, maybe even some protein bars, would be a good bet. 

Don’t overthink it. This part should be easy.

2. Source Your Machine, Then Finance it.

Now it’s time to find a machine to purchase. 

This could be as simple as doing a quick Google search or joining a “buy and sell” Facebook group for your local area. 

If that fails, move on to Googling manufacturers or wholesale vending suppliers. This route will offer the latest and greatest in machines, including training and servicing options if your device needs repairs. 

One thing that’s not so great is that these fancy add-ons generally mean the machines will come at a higher ticket price than if you bought it refurbished or from an independent seller. 

A cheaper option is buying from a consumer-to-consumer platform like Craigslist. An excellent choice for first-time buyers who aren’t looking to invest in a high-end machine. 

Once you’ve found your machine, you’ll need to iron out the finances. Most machines range from $500 to $3000… with the upscale devices costing as much as $10K. 

One financing option is applying for an SBA loan if you don’t have the cash upfront but it may be easier to find a business partner to put up the money for you. 


Check it Out: How to Get an SBA Loan to Buy a Business – The Ultimate Guide


An alternative is equipment financing, a loan for purchasing the machinery or equipment needed to run the business. So, in this case, it would be for the vending machine. You could also possibly have this set up from a machine seller.  

The terms depend on the equipment’s cost, which acts as collateral if you default on the loan. Most vending machines have a life expectancy of over 10 years, so you can put the lenders at ease by letting them know. 

Keep in mind that there’s a lot of variablity on pricing of a vending machine, depending on how many bells and whistles it has, and how much inventory it can hold. 

3. Secure The Right Location For Your Machine. 

This may be the more challenging part of this operation, but no sweat. You can handle it. 

You want to find the ultimate sweet spot where your machine will thrive so you can sit back and relax while the cash flows in.

Depending on the type of machine you’ve chosen, you need to pinpoint a location that you know will generate profit. Again, be attentive to who you’re targeting. 

For example…you don’t want to put a candy and beverage vending machine in front of a convenience or grocery store. Probably not going to work out to well for you in the long run.  

As soon as you decide on the type of location you want to place your machine, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get busy. You need to find business owners who are open and willing to have a vending machine on their property. 

Cold calling isn’t the most fun, but it works. It might also be your best bet when contacting local businesses to house your machine. 

Your business likely has space for your machine, and most of the time, we’ve found that the reason a vending machine doesn’t already exist on the property is because the business owner hasn’t thought of it. Lucky you. 

If cold calling doesn’t tickle your fancy, get out there and pop into the places that interest you the most that you think would be a good idea. 

Show face and get to know the owner. They’ll also be more likely to work with a person they’ve encountered face-to-face instead of some stranger who’s hiding behind a telephone.

Something else that most people don’t know about vending machines is that many places won’t charge you for keeping your machine on their property. 

If that’s not the case for your situation, draw up a contract that outlines how much you owe them each month for renting the space and using their electricity to run your machine.   

Otherwise, enjoy the free rent, fam. 

4. Stock it Up. 

So, the financing, the machine, annnnnd the location are locked in. All that’s left is stocking up your vending machine.

You’ll want to renew that Costco or Sam’s club membership, especially if you’ve chosen to invest in a vending machine that sells cans, candy, granola bars, sodas or potato chips. Because in this case, buying in bulk will dramatically decrease your overhead. 

Restocking inventory will be the most time-consuming part of the job and may only end up taking a couple of hours per week. 

And to make your life even easier, there are now software and apps that will notify you when your stock is running low so you don’t have drive halfway across town just to check on inventory. 


Yours Unconventionally,

Codie & Ryan

Co-founders – Unconventional Acquisitions

PS – Looking for a breakdown of how to secure your next boring business? Grab our course on purchasing small businesses and we’ll give you the rundown.

If you want to learn more about how to find and buy businesses, check out these articles👇

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