Building Wealth Through Chips, Cokes & Cookies:
The Pros and Cons of A Vending Machine Business

So, you hear people talking about wealth-building strategies, sharing their testimonies about how they started from the bottom and now they’re way up, and encouraging you that you can do it, too. You catch the bug, and now, you’re more excited than ever. I can do this! You pledge that this is the year you’re going to get started on your wealth-building journey, and you make a resolve: Enough is enough! I’m too old to not have more assets working for me. This time, I’m going to get started for real!

At a designated day that you set aside, you sit down and put pencil to paper, calculator at your side. First, you consider your options for investing in real estate and realize you don’t have the cash, capital or assets to get started. Scratch that.

Next, you consider making significant investments into one of the hot, high-growth stocks that everyone is buzzing about, but when you look at the $300+ per share buy-in, you realize you can’t even afford a few shares. Scratch that.

You go through your other options. Start the business of your dreams? Level up on your skills by getting a new college degree and better job with higher pay? Become a TikTok star? For one reason or another, none of these will work for you. Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Before you throw in the towel and take the first exit off the wealth-building pathway, here’s something to consider. What about foregoing starting the “grand business of your dreams” and starting a business based where you are with something you can very likely afford? What about starting a vending machine business? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pro: Low startup cost. Starting a vending machine business is a great way to get started in entrepreneurship with relatively little startup costs, both financial and timewise. Machines can be purchased from a commercial vendor online, or even from places like Sam’s Club and Costco. A good vending machine can range from $1,200 to $3,000 (the kind of machines commonly seen in restrooms can range from $50 to $200). Don’t have enough money to pay for your first machine outright? Try charging it to a credit card (or one of the pay-in-installments options at checkout) and making monthly payments on it. Consider this method commonly used by entrepreneurs, referred to as “bootstrapping,” as an investment in yourself to get your business started. Be sure to make on-time payments each month, using the proceeds from your vending machine sales.

Pro: No overhead.
A vending machine business requires no overhead. All that’s really needed to get started is a vending machine, the snacks and drinks to fill the machine, and a willing local business or organization that will allow you to place your machine in their building for people who want to grab a snack or cold drink on the run.

Pro: Low labor requirement (when biz is small).
Of course, you or someone you designate will need to check up on the machine periodically to ensure that it remains well-stocked and in working order. You’ll also need someone trustworthy to retrieve any cash that has been deposited.

Pro: Money hits your account digitally.
Here’s another great thing about a vending machine business: more and more, people are paying less often with cash and more often with credit cards. This means the money hits your digital account in real-time! The more enticing the options you offer in your machine (do some research at each location to determine what types of snacks the people want and stock the machines accordingly), the more money you can make each month.

Pro: Allows you to start small and grow gradually.
The best approach is to start small and grow as your machine inventory and territory will allow. Start with one machine. When the profits from your first machine pay off that machine, it’s time for you to begin saving up the next round of profits to buy your next machine. If you continue this course forward, there’s no telling how many machines you can have in five years, especially if you’re good in networking with local business owners who will allow your machines to be in their buildings.

Con: Occasional vandalism. On occasion, vending machines are vandalized. This is why it’s so important to choose the right locations for your machine. For example, vending machines located in breakrooms in an office building where the people work 9 to 5 are less likely to be vandalized than machines that are located outside of the mailroom of a busy apartment complex. Choose your locations wisely.

Con: Machine malfunctioning and repair. While this is a con, it is a potential con with any business. Any time you work with any type of equipment or machinery in your business, especially when they are at the center of what you do, there is the potential that they will go out of commission and need repair. The good news is that as you are saving up your profits from your machines, you can set aside a portion of these profits every month and save them up as contingency funds for repairs, which will be inevitable at some point. For best results, ensure that you have your machines serviced regularly to avoid breakdowns.

As you can see, the pros of starting a vending machine business greatly outweigh the cons. Starting a vending machine business could be a feasible start to entrepreneurship, which is a proven way to begin building wealth that will last for generations. Remember: don’t wait for “ideal” circumstances to get started building wealth. Start with the “real,” or the reality of where you are, and do whatever it takes to get moving.

Interested in learning more about building wealth? We invite you to listen to our Black Money Tree podcast at Here, you can listen to previous podcast episodes featuring guests who share practical knowledge and strategies about how to begin building wealth in the Black community. The Black Money Tree is produced by Jerome Love in partnership with the Texas Black Expo.

The Black Money Tree is a personal finance philosophy delivered through a curriculum that empowers Black people with the education, support and resources they need to understand and build wealth and to achieve both individual and collective economic sufficiency for generations to come.