Veni Vidi Vended

22 06 2012

I continue to be amazed by no matter how far we reach into the future, we continue to find ways to keep the past alive and well. One of my more vivid memories of childhood is dropping a dime into a soda machine (yeah, that says something about getting old there…) and getting an ice cold Coke. Slip that coin into the slot. Open the door. And pull out my chosen bottle of instant gratification.

My memories are so fond that a little over a decade ago, I purchased a restored 1950s-era Coca Cola Cavalier vending machine. I don’t use it (even thought it works perfectly). I just admire it and let my skin tingle in the glow of nostalgia.

Earth to Nick…Earth to Nick…

Surprisingly, vending is still alive and well. And you know why? It meets a need right where it is happening.

In this era of streaming everything and e-books consuming my iPad, it is almost refreshing to see throwback vending machines still flourishing. And there is none better than the machines owned by Coinstar.

Yeah, the company whose machines take your coffee cans full of coins and convert them into less cumbersome and less clanky paper money. And the company that owns RedBox, the ubiquitous DVD vending machines everywhere.

And now the Seattle’s Best coffee kiosks.

Stock tip of the day: These guys are hot. And they totally get it, continuing to expand in their area of expertise and where they already have an established footprint.

Think about it. Ever so quietly they are encroaching further and further into your supermarket…first with coin redemption machines, then movies, and now coffee. Shear. Genius.

We may ask why did not Starbucks, owner of the Seattle’s Best brand, do this, but it makes much more sense for Coinstar to simply license the name. SBUX has zero experience in vending, while Coinstar is a pro. It was a big stretch (and a coup in itself) for SBUX to get on supermarket shelves with its packaged coffees. But servicing and placing vending machines requires an entirely different level of expertise.

And with prices starting at $1, it’s hard to go wrong here.

At the core of this success story is one simple word: Convenience. And convenience trumps technology, social media, the internet…all of the above…simply because it makes our lives easier. Think of what you will be able to do on a visit to Walmart: get your groceries and other stuff, unload a bunch of coins, bring home a movie, and reward yourself with a coffee.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Dollars and cents.

The more we evolve, the more we de-volve. Turns out the old road may take us there just as fast, if not faster. And while living on land may be nice, sometimes the water is just better.

I just wish I could still get something for this thin dime.

Dr “Coffee Black, No Cream Or Sugar” Gerlich



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