How To Start A Vending Machine Business.

vending machine business

Are you looking to start a fruitful vending machine business that can generate extra income for you and your family?

Owning your first vending machine may seem like a daunting task, but once you read this article you’ll have all the resources and steps that you need to follow to start your vending machine operator career.

Why start a vending machine business?

The vending machines industry is currently generating a staggering $8 billion to the vending machine operators around the United States and this number is likely to increase due to the times that we’re living.


Just like regular shopping is now being made through online platforms like Amazon or eBay, due to the social distancing rules. Vending machines are becoming a safe and fun way to buy drinks, snacks, etc.

Most importantly, having the flexibility to work only on certain days and certain hours is undoubtedly the main reason to adventure with this kind of business.

Should I start from zero or buy an established business?

Without a doubt, this will depend on the amount of money that you are willing to invest and business goals as well.

It’s recommended that if you don’t have any experience operating a vending machine business you start from zero. This way you won’t skip the learning process. Like any other business, running a vending machine requires constant learning.

On the other hand, if you do possess some experience in the industry, buying an established business may be a good idea. When considering this option you have to be extremely careful with scams.

How to avoid scams when buying an established business?

When buying an established business the first thing that you need to do is contact the Federal Trade Commission and the National Fraud Information Center and last but not least you have to ask for information with any of the industry associations. The association for vending machines is NAMA.

If none of these sources recognize the name of the business you are interested in buying, is most likely a scam.

What can I sell?

To start a vending machine business, you first need to pick your niche and products within that niche that you want to sell. This will also influence when buying the right type of vending machine to display those products.

Take a look at this chart that may help you decide which niche has less competition and more growth opportunities .

market share of vended products
Source: Vending Market Watch

How to choose a location?

In order to start a vending machine business you will need to choose the right location. It’s important to keep in mind that the more people a city or neighborhood has, the more chances of selling products.

Visibility is a must when it comes to vending machines, so make sure to place your machine in places with a lot of traffic.

This graph represents the most popular locations to place vending machines and the less saturated locations to help you decide where to place yours when just starting out.

Vending Machines By Location
Source: Vending Market Watch

Decide your course of action.

The IRS, local, and state-federal agencies are going to ask how, and who is going to be involved in the business. It’s important to decide whether you want a partnership, corporation or you want to be the sole proprietorship of the company.

TIP: Vending machine owners always choose sole proprietorship because it’s the easiest and fastest option. That’s why it’s the most recommended when starting out.

How to choose a name for your business.

The name of your business should be easy to remember. For better results pick a name with two words. Show your friends and family members a list of names that you are currently considering so that they can tell you which of them they like the most.

It’s recommended that you do some research before choosing a business name, as another business could be already using it. If you need help brainstorming ideas this website could be very useful:

Where to register my business name?

Once you’ve chosen your business name, its time for you to register it with the U.S Small Business Administration. In some states registering a business name is not required. To find out whether your state is required to register your business name or not visit:

Get federal and tax ID numbers.

The purpose of obtaining these numbers is to be able to file taxes for your business. The same way you utilize your social security number to pay for your personal taxes.

You can’t get these numbers if your state is required to register your business name. So please don’t skip that step to make the process smooth. To get your federal and tax ID numbers please visit:

Where Do I apply for licenses and permits for a vending machine business?

Making sure you have the appropriate licensing and permits before operating is a must. You are require to display a few stickers on your vending machines and these stickers can only be obtain after getting the appropiate licenses and permits.

TIP: Failing to affix stickers could invalidate your insurance policy. Don’t let that happen to your business and follow the rules.

When you are ready to apply for these permits make sure to visit the U. S Department Of Agriculture or your corresponding municipality.

What kind of insurance is needed for a vending machine business?

The insurance that you need to start a vending machine business is called “product liability insurance”. The following is a list of the coverages that you will get for your business when buying it.

  • Accidental contamination
  • Mistakes in the labeling
  • Accidental Product Defect
  • Extortion

The following is a list of the things that are NOT covered with this type of insurance.

  • Quality & performance issues
  • Intentional violation
  • Losses
  • Third-party liability
  • Redesign costs


What is the cost of starting a vending machine business?

This table is a representation of the costs involved when staring a vending machine business.

Business Registration$300
License & Permits$300
Office Supplies$3000
Vending Machine$5000
Total: $16,100
*Some fees will vary depending on your state.

Where to buy the inventory to stock my vending machine?

In order to make a living operating a vending machine, you need to buy your products at wholesale prices, that way you can offer your customers the best possible price.

Keep in mind that customers know that the prices from a vending machine product will be higher than a regular store, because of the convenience they provide. So don’t be afraid to charge what’s fair for you and your customers.

Sam’s Club is a good option. You can buy 35 cans of soda for $0.33 cents/each. That’s how you manage to sell a can of soda for just $1

sam's club coca cola price

Now, take a look at this classic snack mix of 54 bags from Costco. It’s only $12.39. You are basically paying $0.30 cents per bag.

Costco snacks prices to stock a vending machine

When deciding which of these marketplaces to buy from, keep in mind that they both have membership fees.

  • Sam’s club select plus membership fee is $100
  • Costco Business executive membership is $120

Where to buy a vending machine?

When shopping around for vending machines, one of the most important aspects will be deciding whether to buy used or new.

The two most reliable places to buy new and used vending machines are and Sam’s Club. When clicking these links you will be taken to their respective vending machine sections.

Here’s an example of vending machines that you can purchase from & Sam’s Club

The following is a list of equipment that every operator must own.

Repair Kit$50
Heavy Duty Dolly$100
Truck Or Van $15,000
Extension Cords$50
Security Locks$50

How to market a vending machine business?

Business cards: This old method still works. We meet people here and there and business cards will always be a great way to share your phone and email address with potential customers.

To order business cards online you can visit :

Advertisement on your truck or van: We are trying to get as many eyeballs on our business name as possible and driving around your city can be a great opportunity to promote your business.

To order advertisement signs for your truck/van you can visit:

Advertising Flyers: Depending on your vending machine location, distributing flyers around could be a great idea. You can always advertise a new product or offer to entice customers to go to your vending machine instead of your competitor’s.

To order advertising flyers for your business you can visit:


In conclusion, starting a vending machine business is not as hard as many people think. After following all these steps all you need is the determination and willingness to keep learning.

At first, starting a vending machine business will require you to work long hours. You will need to stock your machines several times a week or weekends until you get the hang of it.

Is there any topic that was not included in this article that you would like us to talk about ? let us know in the comments below and good luck with your new vending machine business.

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