Think outside the box
By Stefanie Wallace
Jan. 9, 2013 – Sometimes great new ideas for growth and success come out of a challenging situation. At the beginning of a new year, web editor Stefanie Wallace reminds us of the importance of thinking outside the box every now and then.
Jan 9, 2013 – Happy New Year! We hope the beginning of 2013 has shown promise of growth and prosperity.
Although they may not always be obvious, new opportunities for progress are always around us, and sometimes it’s necessary to think differently to capitalize on them.
Vending operators across the country have been making headlines recently about the cost and challenges of recalibrating machines to accept the new $20 bills.
Collin Stone, president of Vend-Tec in Winnipeg, shared his frustration with CBC News recently. Stone says the price of updating his machines is in the $20-25,000-range – on top of the $30,000 the company has spent upgrading the machines to accept the new $1 and $2 coins.
However, Stone saw opportunity in the challenge of upgrading the machines. Stone told CBC in a video interview that Vend-Tec now services and updates the cash machines of other companies – car washes and Laundromats, for example – to offset some of the cost. Now there’s a forward-thinking way of approaching a challenge.
Do you remember our 2012 Buyers Guide cover, which showed a photo of a vending machine with vegetables in it? That graphic was inspired by a story of a man in Ireland who sold vegetables and eggs from a vending machine on his farm. William Donnan said he wanted to educate people about seasonal produce and sell directly to his customers without going through shops.
Other similar stories have surfaced since then, most recently of a dairy farmer in England who sells raw milk from a vending machine. Jonathan Crickmore sells unpasteurized milk fresh from a shed on his farm. He has even gone so far as designing special reusable glass milk bottles for customers to use and bring back, adorned with art from a local artist. Crickmore told EADT.co.uk that his efforts have been successful, especially among local foodies and other dairy farmers. Five other dairy farmers have approached Crickmore about starting a similar project.
On a slightly similar note, residents and visitors of Omaha, Neb., are in for a surprise when they visit the downtown core. A large vending machine stocked with more than 200 products has been placed near a pedestrian bridge to accommodate people who use the bridge in the winter months. The machine is apparently so large it’s been dubbed a mini grocery store.
Concepts like these make me ponder the idea of using vending machine technology to partner with communities, farmers’ markets and schools to promote locally grown food, beverages and other products. The local foods movement is definitely here to stay, and towns and communities of all sizes are encouraging residents to support local stores and businesses. If you’ve ever wondered about getting more involved within your community, this might be an interesting concept to peruse. Could you pair up with a local café to bring their special blend of coffee or hot chocolate to your town’s outdoor skating rink? Or maybe, promote your optometrist by stocking sunglasses in a machine near the beach or pool through the summer? These sound like big-picture ideas, and they may not work for everyone, but the possibilities are out there. What do you have to lose by thinking outside the box a little? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @CanadianVending, what you are doing, or what you want to try.