Canadian Vending

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Micro markets in Canada

How vending operators are making money in the fresh food business

May 18, 2016
By Laura Aiken


I’d bet many of the most lucrative opportunities are treated first as fairy dust before the trailblazers start making bricks of gold. It’s the nature of humanity to be skeptical of change, to be wary of doing things differently. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is an adage so familiar it may be a little broke itself these days. The business climate is one of swift change and a continual push for bigger, for better, for more profits and more efficiency.

Capitalism, as it turns out, is a bit of a glutton. “Just because something is working fine doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better” would be a better slogan for 2016.

Micro markets – self-serve, fresh food hubs – are a very up-and-coming opportunity for vending and office coffee service operators. They are also one of those opportunities that require a receptiveness to change. As Quality Vending’s Jim Jackson says, his first thought when he heard about micro markets was along the lines of: I’m a vending guy, and I’m not sure this is for me. As it turned out, micro markets sure were for him, and they’ve been doing well by Quality Vending since he leaped in three years ago.

Canada has now reached a point where the early adopters have been at it long enough for more companies to take it seriously as a venture to get into. The team at Canadian Vending & Office Coffee Service Magazine believes it’s a great opportunity for vending operators, or we wouldn’t have dedicated a specially focused publication to it. The question remains, is it the right opportunity for you?


We are hoping these articles (Grab’nGo Vending micro shops/ Becoming an early adopter) help you decide whether micro markets are a wise addition for your business. You may worry about how much time you will need to invest, how you will find customers, or about theft and fresh food spoilage. It’s a new paradigm, where you even have the opportunity to bring in hot meals for your customers. How does it all work? Will it work for you?

In a 2015 Canadian Vending & Office Coffee Service Magazine article titled “Micro markets: are they right for you?”, author Michelle Brisebois reported there were about 7,000 micro markets in America and just over 100 in Canada. I’d hazard a guess to say that Canadian figure has grown in the last year, and the potential for further growth is huge. Brisebois also wrote: “Bachtelle and Associates reports that average sales for a micro market are $48,410 US and that micro markets realize 2.3 daily visits versus 1.9 for a typical vending machine. Purchasing frequency was cited as being 0.7 daily for vending versus 1.2 for micro markets, posting a 48 per cent increase for micro markets over vending.”

The bottom line is micro markets could be very good for your bottom line, if you determine it’s the right opportunity, at the right time and place, for your business and your customers.