How to make your own mini vending machine

Written by mckay voz machina
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How to make your own mini vending machine
Sell collectibles and jewellery in your custom mini vending machine. (Green Embroidered Trinket Box and Jewellery Contents image by Melita from

"...the first vending machine invented was actually on the drawing board of the mathematician Hero, who featured among other inventions, a coin-actuated mechanism that dispensed holy water in 215BC" - The Hanna Group

Making a mini vending machine is a creative, functional way to feature a unique product. Machines can be filled with food, art pieces, electronics, greeting cards, jewellery, collectibles, tobacco products or other items to suit your needs. By controlling your product and clientele, your mini vending machine products are sure to be a success.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Antique cigarette dispensing vending machine
  • Personalised decals
  • Paint
  • Product

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    Logistics: Planning and Product Consideration

  1. 1

    Create a plan. Choose a product you wish to host with the machine. Consider how perishable the product is, and determine whether the location of the vending machine will allow you to replace and replenish the product when necessary.

  2. 2

    Select and secure a location. Work with venue owners, managers and staff. Come to an agreement on floor-space rental. Inquire about obtaining floor space at no cost, if the product enriches the existing business.

    For example, sell glow-in-the-dark bracelets that patrons must purchase if they wish to leave a venue and return during an event. This product helps the security staff by controlling the crowd and also sells your product.

  3. 3

    Optimise sales by matching your product to the location. For example, feature a vending machine with high-end jewellery at the symphony lobby or host disposable cameras in a machine near a tourist spot. Conversely, consider juxtaposing your product to contrast the location to stand out. For example, host antique collectibles in the foyer of museum of modern art. This dissonance may help your product stand out.


  1. 1

    Choose an antique cigarette vending machine or other small machine to repurpose for your product. One can obtain antique items for a fair price at online auction sites. Their small size is perfect for dispensing miniature items.

  2. 2

    Ensure the vending machine is in working condition or be prepared to recondition its mechanics. Parts and bulbs may be very expensive or impossible to find. Unless the vending machine is guaranteed to be in worker order, be prepared to spend more money after you purchase it.

  3. 3

    Prepare or purchase paints and custom decals to adhere to the vending machine, decorating it to advertise your product. Commission custom decals from speciality shops such as Purchase auto paint or have paint custom mixed at a home-improvement store.

    Commission a Custom Mini Vending Machine

  1. 1

    Art-o-mat is a company that has converted old cigarette machines into art dispensers. It provides small works of art that people buy from the machine. Purchase a vending machine from companies like this that provide the product, and you focus on selecting an optimum location.

  2. 2
    <p> offers consulting services for custom machines. This company offers custom design and graphics to visually entice buyers. Its machines accommodate a variety of products. Construct your machine from the ground up or choose from a variety of existing builds.

  3. 3

    The Hanna Group assists with locating and delivering mini vending machines. Its website also offers information on the vending machine industry and sales approaches.

    Build Your Own From Scratch

  1. 1

    Build a mini vending machine from scratch. This fully-custom approach allows you control every design aspect and functionality. Prepare for a demanding, time-consuming endeavour that could take weeks or months.

  2. 2

    Plan and execute construction of the product slots, motor and all other internal workings of the mini vending machine.

  3. 3

    Order any special lights, parts, decals or other visual elements. Be creative in your search. Build your network of contacts within the industry and among collectors and utilise them to the fullest.

    How to make your own mini vending machine
    Find and utilise unique lights to spice up your machine's appeal. (Close up detail of a classic car at a car show image by Rob Hill from
  4. 4

    Test the machine's functionality. Construct and complete your mini vending machine, add product and attach the coin or bill acceptor. Insert funds and observe the machine's actions. Correct where necessary.

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