LAKEWOOD, NJ -- Best known for skill cranes and redemption games, Coast to Coast Entertainment is further extending its reach into the bulk vending space. The New Jersey-based amusement company, which introduced an egg vender two years ago, gave operators a first look at its electronic bulk vending machine during March's Amusement Expo International in Las Vegas.
The new vending system employs a traditional machine rack supporting nine bulk heads, which are complete vending machines incorporating a product storage globe, dispensing and coin mechanisms; each head links to an adjacent control station, also rack-mounted. In its present configuration, the vender offers four heads of 2" capsules and five heads of 1" capsules.
The control and payment unit, mounted at the side of the rack, features large, kid-friendly and illuminated buttons corresponding to each bulk head. A button actuates the release in the selected vender's coin mechanism. Sounds effects, voice prompts and small LED screen (1" H. x 5" W.) guide the patron through the vend process. Once a selection has been made on the control box and payment accepted, children then vend the prize with the traditional turn of the handle.
The control box is made of powder-coated steel and is equipped with a T-handle lock, similar to those used on full-line vending machine doors. It measures approximately 15" W. x 30" H. x 30" D.
Coast to Coast's vending machine was developed in cooperation with A&A Global Industries, which owns a patent that defines the features of an electronic bulk vending system. It features A&A's bulk heads, too.
Electronic bulk venders permit a much wider variance of price points for an individual bulk head, along with multiple payment options. In addition to accepting coins, the unit accepts paper currency, up to $20 bills, as well as debit and credit cards, and even Apple Pay. Pricing for each head can be set in 5¢ increments up to $10; operators program pricing by using the buttons and LED screen on the control box. The display can also be used to run advertising.
"This opens up a lot of opportunities for new locations and new merchandise," said Coast to Coast's Gary Balaban. "There are locations where you could put higher-end products into a capsule, compared with traditional bulk vending machines that typically offer 50¢ items. For instance, you could put a $5 product into a capsule. And operators are no longer limited to coins. People no longer have a lot of coins in their pockets. This machine takes credit and debit cards, which everyone has in their pockets."
Balaban sees the electronic bulk vender as a good fit for malls, convenience stores and family restaurants, along with other high-traffic locations like bowling alleys and family entertainment centers. He believes the system's pricing flexibility and payment options will attract a wider variety of merchandise that appeals to a wider demographic, from bulk vending's traditional customer base of young patrons to mature consumers and locations.
Coast To Coast Entertainment was founded in 1999 by Gary Balaban and John Maurer, who have been business partners in arcade and route operations since 1985.
PAYMENT OPTIONS: Gary Balaban (l.) of Coast to Coast and Jim Noll of Elaut USA, which recently acquired Coast to Coast, show off electronic bulk vender at Amusement Expo. New vender accepts coins, banknotes, credit cards and mobile payments.