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How to make money with gumball machines


    We all need it – just that little bit extra.

    It all started a few years ago when I bought a gumball machine. Yes, that’s right, a bubble gum machine.

    I have always encouraged my kids from a young age to try some entrepreneurial projects. Mainly to teach them about finances and business.

    My Kids started a Sweetie business

    My kids decided that they wanted to sell some sweets to their friends that live in our crescent. I started them off with their initial capital and off to Giant Hyper we went to buy wholesale sweets.

    The sweets were a hit from the start, it’s nearly 4 years later and they are still at it. Using the money they make to buy more stock and splitting the profit between the two of them.

    Turns out that it has been great for their Math skills, adding the items, calculating how much change to give. So mom’s happy.

    Starting a gumball machine business

    The kids were doing so well for themselves, I thought it would be fun to add a gumball machine. I did my homework and bought our 1st gumball machine along with a box of 850 emoji gumballs.

    My kids loved it. The neighborhoods’ kids loved it. Even the adults loved it.

    It only vends R2 coins and I didn’t think it would add up to much. Turns out it could be a nice little side hustle. A filled machine takes about 350 gumballs, that’s R700 when it’s emptied at 64% profit (R448), not bad for doing almost nothing.

    So, I thought to myself, if it’s doing this well just standing here at home, maybe I can try and place one at a location. That’s when I bought my 2nd machine.

    Finding a Location to put a gumball machine

    My very 1st location was actually easy, a friend of mine offered that the machine can be placed at her after school care. This turned out to be my best location yet, the machine is always empty before a month is over.

    Could I place another machine somewhere? I thought maybe I’ll try and get a location for the one standing at home. If I can find a location, then great, I’ll buy another one for our home and if I couldn’t, I didn’t waste any money.

    I worked up enough nerve (because I am actually an introvert) to ask a fish and chips take away shop in our town and they said… YES!

    I now have 5 gumball machines and 1 toy machine that I’m trying out.

    (These are some of the toys I am trying out. The Squishies are a hit. The toy machine is a R10 machine, which takes 2 x R5 coins at a time.)

    My Locations include:

    • My friend’s aftercare
    • 2 different Fish and chips shops
    • A Pharmacy, lol.
    • I still have the one at home too, with my kids still selling sweets, this location is working out pretty well.

    Final thoughts on a gumball vending business

    Just keep in mind that not all locations do equally well. One location is empty before a month is over, while others are only half empty each month. You can either choose to still refill and collect every month or maybe leave those ones to collect every 2nd month.

    Set up a vending route for yourself so you don’t drive up and down town. This is quite a passive income, you can maintain your machines by visiting them one day in a month.

    This is almost no work at all, my kids love going with me to clean and fill the machines and of course collect the money once a month.

    It may not be that much money at first, but as you add machines to your route, it can become a nice little side business. There are even people doing this full time.

    If I consider the little time and effort that goes into maintaining gumball machines, It’s actually an awesome side hustle.