Start A Vending Machine Side Hustle In 2023

Vending machines have become an increasingly popular avenue for entrepreneurial spirits seeking a low-cost side hustle with potential for substantial profit.

With over $23 billion in annual revenue generated by the vending machine industry in the US alone, these automated money-makers can offer passive income and flexible working hours that fit alongside your existing commitments.

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What is a Vending Machine Side Hustle

A vending machine side hustle is a low-cost business opportunity that offers flexible working hours, potential for passive income, and the opportunity to start small and scale up quickly.

Vending machine side hustle

According to Vending Market Watch, the majority of vending machines serve snacks and drinks, but your selections aren’t restricted to food. Different kinds of machines can be found selling everything from face masks and hand sanitizer to electronics, laundry detergent, and other household products.

Vending machines can be found at shopping malls, offices, bus stops, and laundromats. The vending machine market is flourishing, with annual sales exceeding $23 billion.

Consumers may now pay for the products they need and want at the moment, thanks to technological advances. It’s no surprise that the sector is thriving.

Once the machine is installed and set up, you can usually leave it alone until it’s time to restock the inventory or fix any problems. Vending machines with smart technology can notify you when you run out of supplies, whereas simpler types need to be manually checked.

You may either employ someone to take care of these activities or check the vending machine yourself once or twice a week to replenish and collect your money.

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Benefits of a vending machine side hustle

Low Start-up Costs

One of the key factors that draw aspiring entrepreneurs to the vending machine side hustle is its low start-up cost. A significant advantage of this business model is that it doesn’t require a sizable initial investment, making it an accessible option for individuals looking to create an additional income stream.

This initial expenditure covers the primary requirement of owning and operating your own vending business – the machines themselves. In addition, unlike other businesses such as brick-and-mortar stores or franchises, there are no expensive overhead costs like renting office spaces or hiring employees.

This means that budding vending machine entrepreneurs can kick start their new side hustle without breaking the bank while gradually scaling up by adding more machines when their budget allows.

Flexible Working Hours

One of the most enticing aspects of starting a vending machine side hustle is the flexibility it offers when it comes to working hours. Unlike traditional 9-to-5 jobs or even other types of businesses, vending machines operate continuously, allowing you to generate passive income around-the-clock.

This flexibility extends beyond just scheduling though – managing and maintaining your vending machines can often be done at your own pace. For instance, restocking and making necessary repairs can be scheduled during evenings or weekends, minimizing conflicts with other work commitments.

Additionally, as you scale up your operations and add more machines in multiple locations, adjusting your workload becomes easier since many tasks can be completed on a weekly or biweekly basis according to each machine’s individual needs.

Potential For Passive Income

One of the most appealing aspects of a vending machine side hustle is its potential to generate passive income. As opposed to active income, which requires constant work and involvement, passive income allows business owners to earn money with minimal ongoing effort after they’ve established their operations. It is the ideal passive income side hustle.

This type of passive income stream can free up time for other pursuits or provide financial stability while maintaining a day job. For instance, if each vending machine generates just $100 per week on average in profit from selling snacks or beverages, having ten machines strategically placed across different high-traffic areas could mean an additional $1,000 weekly income without much hands-on management.

Of course, routine maintenance such as restocking products and performing repairs should still be taken into account; however, it’s possible to outsource these tasks if desired or manage them efficiently alongside existing commitments.

Is a Vending machine business profitable?

The average vending machine earns less than $5 a week but if you place it in a good spot, it can earn more than $100 a week or as much as hundreds of dollars per day.

The vending machine market is appealing to first-time entrepreneurs and anybody seeking a passive income. Vending machine operators can start small with a single drink and gradually grow their business to be as large as they like.

The vending machine industry is something to consider as a full-time business or a side gig because it offers flexibility in time and options. When estimating your earnings, you must also consider the costs of keeping your machine in a specific location. Many vending machine owners pay property owners 10% to 25% of their revenue.

As with any other business, with the right approach, you can turn this into a profitable side hustle.

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How to Start a Vending Machine Side Hustle

To start a vending machine side hustle, entrepreneurs must conduct thorough market research, carefully choose the right vending machine for their business needs, select popular and profitable products that cater to their target audience, find optimal locations with high foot traffic, establish a budget and secure necessary financing, as well as obtain all required licenses and permits.

Conducting Market Research

Before starting a vending machine side hustle, it is crucial to conduct thorough market research. This will help you identify the best location and products for your machines while also providing insights into customer preferences and behavior.

Market research can be done through surveys or by observing foot traffic in potential locations.

For example, if you plan on placing a soda vending machine in an office building with numerous other drink options nearby, researching which flavors are most popular among customers could aid in boosting sales.

Additionally, identifying areas with high foot traffic but limited dining options would present an opportunity to sell snack items such as chips or candy bars.

Choosing the Right Vending Machine

Just like choosing the right ATM machine when running an ATM side hustle, choosing the right vending machine is crucial to the success of your side hustle.

There are various types of vending machines available, including beverage vending machines, ice vending machines and bulk vending machines that sell toys or other small items.

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It’s important to consider factors such as product offerings and target market when making a decision. For example, if you plan on targeting health-conscious customers, investing in a healthy snack machine may be a wise choice.

Additionally, refurbished machines can provide cost savings compared to brand new ones.

Selecting the Best-selling Products

Choosing the right products to stock in your vending machines is crucial to the success of your business. It’s important to offer a variety of high-quality items that appeal to your target audience, while also being mindful of profit margins and popularity.

Popular options include snacks like chips and candy, as well as beverages such as soda and water. Healthy snack choices have also become increasingly popular, including granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruit.

It’s important to monitor inventory regularly and adjust product offerings accordingly based on what sells best. Don’t be afraid to try out new items or rotate offerings periodically based on seasonal trends or customer feedback.

Finding a Profitable Location

One of the most crucial aspects of running a successful vending machine business is finding a prime location to place your machines. You want to find an area with high foot traffic and where people are likely to be craving the type of products you offer.

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This could include busy office buildings, hospitals, schools or recreation centers.

It’s important to do your research on potential locations before making a decision. Look at demographics, competition, and other factors that may impact sales in that area.

Ultimately, placing vending machines in areas with high foot traffic could make all the difference in sales. For instance, you could install toy vending machines in big box store lobbies to ensure kids see them.

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Budgeting And Financing

It’s important to carefully plan and budget for starting a vending machine side hustle. This includes factoring in the cost of purchasing or renting machines, stocking them with products, and maintaining them over time. You should start with a few vending machines first.

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Additionally, it may be necessary to obtain financing from a bank or other lender in order to cover initial expenses. It’s crucial to keep track of all expenses and income related to the business, so that you can accurately calculate profits and adjust your strategy as needed.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided to start a snack vending machine business with two machines in busy office buildings. You’ll need at least $2,000-$4,000 per machine upfront for purchase or rental costs (a refurbished vending machine could be cheaper), plus another $500-$1,000 per location for inventory purchases.

You’ll also need funds to maintain vending machines – roughly another $300 per year per machine on average – on top of any emergency issues that might arise unexpectedly throughout the year.

Some financing options you could consider are:

Small business loans

Small business loans are appropriate for entrepreneurs with limited financial resources or lofty goals. Short-term loans are a fantastic alternative for startups because they often have to be repaid in 18 months or less.

Equipment financing loans

With these loan kinds, the lenders let you purchase commercial machinery for your fledgling company. They’ll assess interest fees and take your vending machine costs into account. Your machines could be used as collateral if you miss a loan payment.


Some businesses rent vending machines. Contracts often run two to five years and might be a good way to get started if you need assistance financing the vending machine you desire. Expect to pay the leasing firm predetermined monthly installments for the duration of the contract.

Obtaining a Vending Machine License

To become a vending machine business owner, it’s important to obtain the necessary licenses and permits required by your state or local government.

Depending on where you plan to operate, these can include a general business license, sales tax permit, food service establishment permit or health department inspection certificate.

It’s essential to research the regulations and requirements for your location as they can vary from state to state or even within different counties. Failure to obtain proper licensing could result in hefty fines and lost revenue.

Once you have obtained all necessary permits, it’s crucial to keep them up-to-date and properly displayed at each of your vending locations.

Purchase your vending machine

Without initially acquiring a machine, you cannot launch a vending machine company. Fortunately, locating your vending machine can be done quickly and easily online.

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Look for local and national vendors to get a sense of the various vending machine offers and pricing ranges available. When examining vending machine prices, you should also take inventory costs into account.

Start your search with one of these three categories of vendors to locate the vending machine of your dreams:

  • Manufacturers or wholesale vending providers have the largest assortment of vending machines available for purchase. This is the most expensive choice, though, as vending franchises may demand a minimum order of many machines or additional costs for machine upkeep and entrepreneur development initiatives.
  • Secondary market vendors or specialty internet merchants allow you to explore different vending machine brands and models, and they frequently include useful tools for company owners.
  • Consumer-to-consumer platforms like Craigslist and eBay have thousands of vending machines for sale. For first-time vending entrepreneurs who do not want to invest thousands of dollars on a new or used machine, this may be the ideal alternative.

Sign Contracts With Property Owners

After you’ve decided on a location and obtained permission from the property owner, you should draft a contract outlining the terms of your agreement. You will both agree on a compensation rate and a time frame in this contract.

Try to come up with a realistic commission rate that will satisfy the party supplying you with the venue while yet leaving you with a reasonable profit margin. So, before agreeing to a number and signing the contract, do the math.

A lawyer should evaluate this contract before it is signed. As you finalize your contract, take into account whether you’ll offer any kind of vending machine customer service. For instance, you might print a phone number on the machine for users to contact in case of problems.

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How to Run a Successful Vending Machine Business

To ensure long-term success in the vending machine industry, it’s essential to keep your machines clean and stocked, offer a variety of products, monitor inventory and adjust product mix accordingly, use a cashless payment system, develop good relationships with location owners, and explore new locations to expand your business – read on for more expert tips!

Keep The Machines Clean, Stocked and Attractive

To ensure the success of your vending machine business, it’s important to keep your machines clean, well-stocked and visually appealing. Regular cleaning and maintenance will not only enhance the appearance of your machines but also help keep them running smoothly for longer periods.

To prevent customer dissatisfaction, make sure you replenish your stock frequently with fresh products that meet their demands.

A single vending machine may bring in as little as $5-$10 per week depending on its location and product selection. By making sure your machines are clean, well-stocked, and attractive, you increase the chances of attracting more customers and generating higher revenue streams over time.

Offer a Variety of Products

To attract more customers and increase sales, it’s essential to offer a diverse range of products in your vending machines. This can include healthy snacks, beverages, candy, chips, and even tech accessories like charging cables or phone cases.

By diversifying the selection of items available in your machine based on location and demographic, you can cater to specific customer needs and preferences. For example, offering healthier snack options in an office building could appeal to health-conscious workers who may be looking for a quick pick-me-up during the workday.

With millions of operating vending machines throughout America each week bringing between $5-$10 per commodity depending on location and product selection; having multiple locations with varied product offerings presents opportunities for scalability when starting a vending machine business venture.

Monitor Inventory and Adjust The Product Mix

Once you’ve chosen your vending machine and location, it’s important to keep track of your inventory and make necessary adjustments to the product mix.

This means regularly checking which products are selling well and which ones aren’t, so that you can restock accordingly.

It’s also a good idea to periodically switch up your product offerings to keep things interesting for customers. You could do this seasonally by offering different products during different times of year (hot beverages in the winter, ice cream in the summer), or simply experimenting with new products on a regular basis.

Consider Using a Cashless Payment System

Consider using a cashless payment system because many people now prefer using credit or debit cards, digital wallets, and even mobile payments instead of carrying cash.

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By offering these payment options, vending machine owners can cater to this growing preference and increase sales. A cashless system also eliminates the need for frequent trips to collect coins and bills from machines, saving time and hassle.

It’s important to note that implementing a cashless payment system will require an initial investment in equipment such as card readers or touch screens but can ultimately streamline operations and increase revenue.

Develop Good Relationships With Location Owners

Establishing strong relationships with location owners is crucial for the success of a vending machine business. It’s important to work collaboratively and maintain open communication in order to ensure mutual profitability.

Offering incentives, such as a percentage of profits or free product samples, can help nurture these relationships. For example, one operator increased sales by 30% after partnering with a gym owner and offering exclusive protein bar flavors at his location.

Additionally, maintaining a positive reputation through prompt maintenance responses and respectful interactions can also lead to valuable recommendations from satisfied property owners to their peers within the industry.

Explore New Locations to Expand Your Business

To scale up your vending machine business, consider exploring new locations and expanding the number of machines you own. Finding profitable locations can be a challenge but it’s crucial to growing your revenue.

Expanding your business can provide more potential for passive income and opportunities for growth. For instance, owning multiple machines across different locations can boost profits significantly.

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Overcoming Potential Challenges in The Vending Machine Business

To overcome potential challenges in the vending machine industry, business owners must focus on preventive measures like investing in security features, developing good relationships with location owners to prevent theft and vandalism, regularly monitoring inventory and adjusting product mix for optimal sales, exploring new locations to expand their customer base, and managing cash flow effectively.

Theft and Vandalism

One of the main challenges of operating a vending machine business is the risk of theft and vandalism. However, there are several measures that can be taken to prevent these issues.

One effective strategy is to install security cameras near each machine to monitor activity and deter criminals.

To further protect your investment, consider investing in insurance coverage specifically designed for vending machines. This can provide financial protection in the event of damage or theft.

With these preventative measures in place, you will be able to run a profitable vending machine business with less stress and worry over potential losses due to criminal activity.


In the vending industry, competition can be fierce. With millions of machines in operation across the US, it’s important to stand out from other operators. One way to do this is by offering unique and popular products that are not commonly found in other machines.

Maintaining good relationships with location owners can also help deter competitors from placing their machines in the same area.

Another strategy is to explore new locations and expand your business beyond your current territory.

Overall, while competing with other vending machine operators may present challenges, there are several strategies that businesses can employ to succeed within this dynamic market.

Managing Cash Flow And Finances

Effective cash flow management is critical to the success of any vending machine business. As an operator, you need to keep track of your income and expenditure regularly.

It’s important to create a budget plan that covers all costs associated with running the business, including inventory, machine maintenance and repair expenses, and rental fees for locations.

One effective way to manage cash flow is by installing a cashless payment system on your machines. This not only helps reduce theft but also simplifies accounting by providing real-time financial data.

Dealing with Maintenance and Repairs

Keeping your vending machines running smoothly is essential for maintaining profitability. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can prevent costly breakdowns and downtime, ensuring that your machines are always available to customers.

If a problem arises with one of your machines, it’s crucial to address it as soon as possible. This may involve repairing or replacing faulty parts or calling in a technician for larger issues.

Staying on top of maintenance and repairs can help keep your vending machines operating efficiently and ultimately contribute to the success of your side hustle venture.

Understanding And Complying With Tax Laws

As with any business, it is important to understand and comply with tax laws when operating a vending machine side hustle. Vending machine businesses are subject to various taxes such as sales tax, income tax, and property tax.

In addition, keeping accurate records of all transactions is crucial for tax purposes. This includes tracking expenses such as product purchases, maintenance costs, and rental fees for machine locations.


Starting a vending machine side hustle can be a lucrative and low-cost option for entrepreneurs. With the right machines, product selection, and location, it’s possible to generate passive income while still maintaining your day job.

By conducting thorough market research and following essential steps such as selecting a profitable location and establishing good relationships with property owners, you can increase your chances of running a successful vending machine business.

Despite potential challenges such as theft prevention or understanding tax laws, millions of vending machines exist in the US alone generating over $23 billion in revenue annually.

Whether you’re looking to start small with just one or two machines or expand into multiple locations, there is ample opportunity for success within the industry.

Before you leave

If you’re tired of scams and want a real solution for making money online check out my no.1 recommendation.

It’s helped me earn over $300,000 in the last 12 months alone:

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(This is a 100% free training)

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David Fortune has been the editor since 2019. He is an expert at writing content on stock advisory services, side hustles, reviewing online business opportunities and many more topics. You can learn more about David on our about us page.

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