NEWMARKET, ON, Canada -- The decision by the Canadian government to stop minting pennies this fall was met with thundering silence. Since it costs about 1.6¢ to mint each of the coins, the decision was widely seen as prudent. | SEE STORY
But what about bulk vending? Would the elimination of the penny deal a deathblow to all those penny bulk machines out there? Not really.
"We sold one penny machine in 2008," said Beaver Machine Corp.'s Heidi Schwarzli. "The gentleman purchased it to be used at a trade show, for promotional purposes only."
The third-generation bulk machine manufacturer recalled she was five years old the last time her family's company made penny coin mechs.
Prior to that, Schwarzli said, one operator was still putting penny gumball machines out in a location as late as 1988. "It was in a low-income area that couldn't sustain higher vend prices," she explained. "And there was another operator who was operating penny machines in the late 1970s, before I was even born."
Will the United States follow Canada's lead? So far, Canada's southern neighbor has resisted eliminating the $1 bill (and adorning its currency with hockey players). But penny bulk vending is extinct here, too.
Operators with long memories may recall that Ford Gum & Machine conducted a penny gumball vender campaign in the U.S. more than three decades ago, at the height of public concern over price inflation. It generated a good deal of favorable publicity for the bulk vending industry, but it was the last hurrah for a tradition dating back to the turn of the 20th century.