LAS VEGAS -- When Brian Angell of Angell Vending Services (Golden, CO) took top honors for Most Innovative Operator during the National Bulk Vendors Association
's tradeshow and convention, he won more than the $300 in prize money and bragging rights. Angell's innovation, which was voted on by other operators attending the Las Vegas event, demonstrated that ingenuity is alive and well in bulk vending.
Angell's invention is a modified coin mechanism that allows for vend prices at either $1.25 or $1.50. The modification involves disassembling a standard $1 mech, then carefully altering the wheel to make room for the additional coinage.
"Basically what I do is grind out the space so that three coins go in the right slot and two in the left slot," he said. "You have to put a quarter in, mark its border with a pencil, then hand grind the wheel. It's a fairly simple process."
The concept also includes clearly visible signage announcing the higher price at both the coin mech and display card.
As with many innovations, necessity was the mother of Angell's invention. He hit on the idea when he saw the cost of merchandise rise without the ability to raise his prices on the vend side of the equation. This was particularly true for the high-bounce balls that proved to be a favorite at many of his better locations. As a small operator with about 60 locations, the added cost of merchandise was putting a dent in his bottom line.
He estimates that his coin mech modification is installed in machines on a third of his route. "Where the higher pricing does best is in 'higher-end' restaurants," Angell said. "I have two corporate accounts, family restaurants that often have a wait time, and that's where the higher pricing does really well." Apparently the higher prices aren't an obstacle for parents with young children who find themselves waiting in line to be seated.
Because the disassembly of the mech and hand grinding may take some time, Angell's DIY solution may not be suitable for larger routes with hundreds of machines. Right now, however, the strategy is working well for him, and he believes it could benefit other small bulk vending operations.