Ice Vending Machine

June 2, 2022

What to Know Before Buying Ice Vending Machines

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What to Know Before Buying Ice Vending Machines

Unconventional Acquisitions

June 2, 2022

Alright, this week, we’re breaking down a boring business that you have definitely driven past in your hood, but have probably never thought about buying. You’re probably here because you have been keeping an eye on “ice vending machine businesses for sale” listing, or trying to explore the opportunities of buying an ice vending machine business. So without further ado, let’s chat about buying ice vending machines.

Do you Want To Learn How to Acquire One of These Ice Businesses? Check Out Our Biz Buying Masterclass

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So first up…what even *is* an ice vending machine? The concept is simple. Head to your closest gas station or grocery store and I’ll bet you’ll see one. They’re a drive-up business that will sell you a bag of ice, curbside.

Not only that, but it’s as easy as swiping your card and pressing a button. No employees, no complicated overhead. Just some frozen water in a plastic bag. 


According to Road Less Traveled Finance, if you’re interested in getting into ice vending, you can expect to earn upwards of $3,664 per month in profit (and the margins are hella high). 

One of our friends, Brett Gentry, makes $71k+ a year in profit from his ice vending machine business.



If you’re unfamiliar with what an ice vending machine looks like, they typically look like this (and they’re rumored to outrival Dairy Queens per square foot here in the South).

And these machines aren’t just cranking out bags of frozen water—they’re also cranking out cold. hard. CASH. We’ll give you our list of what to think about if you’ve got ice vending on your radar to add to your portfolio of boring businesses. 

Oh! And if you’re new to what we do here at Unconventional Acquisitions, we’re on a mission to create 100,000 small business owners by buying boring businesses. 

Our philosophy? We’re here to help you acquire profitable businesses by buying than building them, so you can see cash flow on day one. 

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty on ice vending machines and why we love investing in them:

1. There Are No Employees to Manage.

Your boring business would be…quite literally…a simple machine. While you’ll need to check-in and make sure that everything is working properly each day so you don’t lose out on sales, this is the type of boring business where you can set it and forget it. 

You may consider hiring a day-to-day operator who can check in on how the business is doing every day, but otherwise, this is a pretty simple business to set up and manage. 

2. They’re an Ideal Investment if You Are Near a Recreational Area (i.e. National Parks, Lakes, Beaches, Etc.)

My friend, Brent Gentry, lives in a very small town in Arkansas—barely a blip on the map. In fact, if you were to drive there, you’d probably be surprised at just how small this place is. 

But you wanna know what’s just ten minutes away from Brett’s ice vending machine business? A huge national park with heavy traffic daily with people who need ice to stock up their coolers.

During peak season, Brett estimates that he sells upwards of 900 bags of ice a month on average…which…at $1.50 a bag…equals about $1350 in revenue each month. And after expenses? Brett is making around $1000 to $1150 in profit every month.

Since he also has several machine locations in his portfolio, Brett is making anywhere from $5k to $6k every month from a business model that earns him pretty close to passive income. 

3. Simple Business Model Without a Lot of Bells and Whistles.

Again, this isn’t the most complex business on the planet. It’s just a machine and it’s honestly kind of a little boring, but that’s exactly why we love it. 

If you want to get into ice vending, here’s the basic equipment you’ll need:

  • A piece of land (or to lease someone else’s)
  • At least 10k cars driving by each day
  • Access to water and an electric hookup
  • The actual water and ice vending machine

As far as machinery goes, you’ll want to make sure you invest in high-quality equipment. If you’re looking into buying a high-quality machine, you can expect that machine to sell around 75 ten-pound bags of ice each day. You’ll probably end up spending about 25 cents per gallon on water, meaning you’ll be making $195 a day (or $5.8k per month) or $71,000 a year per machine.

And the best part? Your machine can probably crank out around 75 bags per day, but your breakeven point profit-wise is probably closer to around 15 bags. Anything extra is pure profit. 

The great thing about getting into ice vending machines is that the cost of goods is also relatively low. I spoke to several ice vending machine owners and learned that the cost of water and utilities is typically as low as 25 cents per bag, making this an interesting addition to your portfolio. 

4. Location Is by Far the Most Important Factor to Think About.

Because you’ll be trying to have an ice machine that sees traffic with 10,000 cars or more per day, you’ll have to be hyperaware of the location of your ice vending machine while scouting out where to place it. 

First up, you’ll want to make sure that the location is easy to see from the street level if someone is walking or driving past. If you don’t have that, you’re sunk.

The other thing you’ll want in place is easy parking access so your customers can simply pull in, grab their bag of ice, and pull right back out. If you’re missing this element in your business plan, your potential customers will likely head to the gas station or grocery store, instead of your ice machine. Bummer. 

5. There May Be Some Upfront Costs, so Be Aware (But They Won’t Break the Bank).

While you don’t need to be a millionaire to get into the ice vending machine business, you’ll find that there are a few things you can expect to buy upfront that are a little more costly. 

The pricing of the actual machine can vary anywhere from $20k to $100k per machine. 

Keep in mind in your ice vending machine business plan, that there are also going to be some on-site and upfront costs associated, like hiring someone to place the machine at your location and putting out parking blockades or barriers. 

6. There Are Financing Options Available Through an Equipment Purchase.

Most people don’t know this, but you can actually purchase an ice vending machine through a vendor that will allow you to finance the actual machine. 

You can purchase one through a preferred vendor like Ice House America, which will allow you to purchase a $35k machine that will last around ten years, (but you’ll only pay about $350 per month in financing). 

Which…if you ask me…I could buy a couple of pairs of Lululemon yoga pants or I could invest in an ice vending machine (I think you know which one I’d choose).

Want to learn more about how to execute effective business buying plans like buying an ice vending machine business plan? We’ll show you the ropes and walk you through EXACTLY what you should be thinking about when buying a fancy frozen water maker in our online course for small business buyers


Yours Unconventionally,

Codie & Ryan

Co-founders – Unconventional Acquisitions


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