Innovation Drives Fresh Interest, Opportunity in Vending

From healthy snacks to medical marijuana

STAMFORD, Conn. -- From healthy snacks and fresh-brewed coffee to ballet flats shoes and medical marijuana, the vending industry is experiencing a revival, according to a report in the Huffington Post.

There are more than 29,000 vending-related businesses in the United States, and as creativity opens new opportunities, many entrepreneurs and innovators have turned to the $7-billion vending retail industry for a fresh share of the market, according to the report.

Expanding beyond snacks and sodas, vending machines can now dispense bikes, baby formula or a spare pair of shoes. Vending machines are so hot, they've caught the attention of more than just small businesses--even commercial retailers such as Macy's are turning to automated machines to help consolidate shelf space while boosting sales of less traditional department store products such as personal tech gadgets. Click here to see a slideshow of some of the innovative vending machines.

Meanwhile, the Stamford Patch featured a vending machine that helps consumers make healthier choices when snack time rolls around.

Entrepreneurs Michael and Bing Schwaller partnered with HUMAN Healthy Vending, to develop a new type of vending machine that educates users how to make healthy food choices. The new machines, which are in use at The Boys and Girls Club of Stamford, The Darien YMCA, The New Canaan YMCA, The Yerwood Center and C3 Athletics, all in Connecticut, as well as many other locations, include video/audio systems that are used to deliver health and nutrition information to users, including detailed information about the products purchased through the machines.

“Unlike antiquated vending machines that have long been complicit in encouraging unhealthful eating habits, HUMAN’s vending machines are the first full-service vending solution offering healthful snacks, drinks and entire meals along with health education streamed digitally via high-definition LCD screens attached to the machines,” states a press release. “The LCD screens can educate consumers on the products in the machine as well as give general nutrition advice, such as how to read a nutrition label.”

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