Vending, Redefined

1:50 PM

I love the way companies have been taking advantage of vending machines lately. Vending machines are no longer just your usual go-to for a soda or bag of chips, but rather a source of endless possibilities. Over the past ten years or so, I was usually excited enough to stumble across the odd Pringles or Dippin' Dots machines, but the last few years have proved that you really can find just about anything in a self-serve box.

The first time I saw a really great example of the modern-day vending machine was in 2009 at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. In the hotel lobby, there were several machines, many of which were dedicated to brand-new Apple products.

No, not that kind of apple.

Here we go:


Since then, I haven't been surprised to walk into a Macy's store to find a glass case filled with iPods, iPads, and spare ear buds. I guess rich people need gifts in a hurry sometimes, but I think I'd rather stick to the whole I-bought-it-at-a-store-so-I-can-always-take-it-back policy.

Surprisingly, I even saw this trend pop up a few weeks ago in my old hometown. I wasn't raised in the middle of nowhere, but our local mall in Virginia wasn't necessarily on the cutting-edge of shopping meccas. The gotta-have-it-now product? Proactiv!

I'm not sure I'd ever think of running across town to buy face wash out of a vending machine, but a huge refrigerator-type case covered in pictures of Julianne Hough might win some people over. Takes away the embarrassment of talking to anyone about your skin imperfections, I guess. If you're opposed to that type of thing.

And, of course, where would we be without our beloved Redbox? Never before have Friday night movie choices been so spontaneous and inexpensive.

When Brad and I were out driving around this weekend, I was amused to see a machine for fishing bait outside of a convenience store, right next to a self-serve cage for not ice, but firewood. I guess they really weren't kidding when they said Michigan is surrounded by lakes, huh?

A few more innovative kiosks:

Walking robot Coke machine (Source)

Kit Kat's Human Vending Machine--this one made me giggle. (Source)

YESSS! (Source)
Need an umbrella? I guess this is less shady than buying one for $2.00 from the guy walking around the subway. (Source)

AND . . .
Nothing says convenience like feeding your dollars into a machine and watching a Smart Car pop out.

Okay, I'm leading you on. That doesn't really happen, but you can push a button to receive a tube of pamphlets and stickers from Smart. Still pretty eye-catching, if you ask me.


So, what about you? Ready to scout huge shopping areas to see what you can watch fall out of a machine?

Happy hunting. :)

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