HOUSTON (SEPTEMBER 2008) — Vend-A-Mation is rolling out a bulk vender that incorporates a unique video component to attract customers and encourage sales. The result of four years’ research and development, it is the company’s first product and will be shown at the Amusement and Music Operators Association International Expo (September 10-12, Las Vegas Convention Center).
The Martian Blaster’s rocket-shaped orange cabinet features a small, centrally mounted monitor with a “porthole”-like frame. This device displays a computer-generated cartoon Martian who calls out to customers in English or Spanish. Once a vend is initiated, it delivers an entertaining 30-second show that helps patrons imagine their gumball being “rocketed” to them from space.
Officials said plans call for regular video content updates to help maintain interest. They will be provided on flash cards for easy installation, and the machine has a commercial-grade reader. “Technology has come far enough where we can keep units interesting inexpensively,” company president Glen Coker pointed out.
Vend-A-Mation has been field testing the unit extensively, and reports impressive figures regarding its earning potential. According to Coker, a standard spiral gumball vender on location at a Wal-Mart in Pasadena, TX, had been earning $75 to $100 weekly. The machine was taken out and replaced with a Martian Blaster also vending gum, which averaged $258 a week during the month-long trial.
Coker said the new unit consistently earned well when compared with the machines it replaced in test locations: “It doubled the revenues of nine-head racks it replaced. In one case, it quadrupled the revenues of a gumball spiral that it replaced,” he stated. “The worst-case scenario was a 60% increase.”
The machine vends 1-in. bulk products including gumballs, high-bounce balls and capsules, and uses a standard 18-in. globe; its capacity is 2,800 items. It is assembled at the company’s Texas facility and uses parts available off-the-shelf from recognized industry suppliers, including its coin mech, hopper and meters. It requires electricity, and can be plugged into a standard outlet.
The vend price can be set at 25¢, 50¢ or $1, and is changed via DIP switches. Units measure 37 ins. W. x 36 ins. D. x 57 ins. H. and weigh 72 lbs. when empty.
Vend-A-Mation was founded by its vice-president of development and production John Knott, who has 19 years’ industrial product development experience. Coker, an industry veteran with 20 years in the coin-op industry including nine with Coinstar, joined the firm as president in January.
The company maintains headquarters at 2406 Dry St., Houston, TX 77023; tel. (800) 921-2022. A website, now under development, will be at online at vendamation.com.