Canadian Vending

From the Editor: Winter 2019

February 20, 2019
By Naomi Szeben

Happy New Year to our readers! We have many new things to celebrate this year: First, we are happy to announce there will be four editions of Canadian Vending and Office Coffee Service a year. That’s right, we’re moving from a bi-annual publication to quarterly publications.

Another change to commemorate is the new ten-dollar bill, with a face that Manuel E. Parreira says “not a lot of Canadians know.” A quick referral of Canadian civil rights history will reveal that Viola Desmond was central to the desegregation movement in Canada. Parreira notes, that Desmond is often compared to Rosa Parks, but Desmond helped get Canada’s segregation laws removed nearly a decade before the United States changed theirs.

Speaking of change, the way certain bills will – or won’t – be accepted by machines are also in this season’s edition of Canadian Vending and Office Coffee Service. Some bills are slowly being removed from circulation, and new bills should be recognized by all machines.

Trends like the proposed Healthy Vending Act is also changing the way people think of convenience services. One innovative group of publishers saw a way to bridge the gap between eating to fill boredom and providing passengers with “brain food.”


Publishers noticed that while Canadians love to read, many well-regarded authors are slotted to the back shelves after a year. Bookstores will not risk storing Canadian Literature (CanLit) on their shelves after a year, to ensure that they have room for more recent material, and most vending machines in airports and public spaces sell American best-sellers or easy-to-pack magazines.

The solution: Carry On Books, a vending machine that sells back-shelved Canadian literature. “Pick a Book. Take a trip,” is its motto. This vending machine sells a healthier and more intriguing alternative to chips and soft drinks, also giving tourists a different taste of Canadiana.

What struck me as important about this article was how two facets of vending converged: The need for an alternative product to sell, and how a refurbished machine was given new life to the automated sales industry. It’s not what was being sold, but how: I was impressed by how publishers thought of a unique way to sell their “back-shelved” books; the books that are not exactly old, but stale enough not to be new.

Authors, travellers and publishers all gained from this experiment, as well as the refurbishing company, Unattended Sales, who jumped at the chance to sell something very different, and keep a machine out of the landfill.

This new year, we all celebrate change, and innovation. We Canadians rise to the challenge of reinventing ourselves and making the best of our resources. Viola Desmond was a champion of human rights, and brought a change for the better for our country.

We have machines that may be accepting bills, but they are offering us more than mere dry goods: The vending industry is about more than consumerism, it is about finding ourselves, and thinking of unique ways to provide value to the public. I hope our readers will enjoy this issue and find a way to bring your vending or office coffee service new life.

Happy new year!