If you’re considering buying a vending machine or two (or want to add a couple more to your growing collection) and aren’t sure what line of products to go for, we’ve put our heads together and have come up with some vending machine items that aren’t on every street corner. Before getting started though, do your homework on ways to ensure a profitable and successful vending machine business so that you’re au fait with the basics.

These are the top 5 vending machine collections on our wish list:

1. Beach basics

It always happens. You hit the beach, go for a swim, then bake in the sun. Before long, you’ve realized you’ve left some essentials at home. A beach vending machine situated close to the change rooms would be ideal, especially if it included:

  • Hats and caps
  • Sunscreen
  • Skin cooling lotion
  • Affordable, quality sunglasses
  • Flip-flops
  • Goggles
  • Earplugs
  • Swimming (rash) tops
  • Plastic cups
  • Kiddies’ spades
  • Waterproof neck pillows
  • Disposable cameras
  • AA batteries
  • Wet wipes
  • Plasters
  • Antiseptic ointment
  • Rehydrating solution

2. Hospital heroes

Yes, there are usually gift items in dusty corners of hospital coffee shops. And typically, they are overpriced, uninspired and completely lacking in both quality and class. Although there is also generally a pharmacy in the hospital that will sell some of these items, it often closes before evening visitors’ hours. This is what we’d like to see in a hospital vending machine (for the benefit of both visitors and patients):

  • Get-well and thank-you cards
  • Inspirational books
  • Humorous books
  • Crossword books
  • Puzzles and card games
  • Quality teddy bears
  • Exclusive snacks: nougat; dried fruit; Turkish delight; boxes of good chocolate
  • Hand cream
  • Novelty gifts and knickknacks such as pretty notepads and pot pourri
  • Gift bags
  • Slippers
  • Hair bands
  • Ladies’ sanitary items
  • Travel-sized toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Wet wipes
  • Prettily packaged tissues

3. Healthy school snacks

Did we hear you say “Yeah, right”? Have some faith. Modern children may constantly be exposed to relentless marketing of junk food, but there has been an increase in health food sales. Ideally, the traditional tuck shop selling chips, sweets and sugary carbonated drinks would be uprooted, and only healthy snack items would be on offer. While we’re not proposing causing a riot, there are definitely kids out there who would like to have access to a health-food vending machine that offers better options, such as:

  • Muesli bars
  • Nuts
  • Individual packs of multigrain crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Low-fat biltong snapsticks
  • Energy bars
  • Wet wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Mineral water
  • Healthy drinks (such as Sir Juice, Grapetizer or Vitamin Water)
  • Hair bands
  • Pantyhose
  • Rescue tablets for exam stress

4. Diva lifesavers

Let’s face it: nightclubs aren’t the safest of places. Not only do women have to come dressed to kill, they have to keep an eye out for stalkers and dodgy characters AND know how to dance without putting their reputation in danger. Scariest of all, they’re constantly faced with diva disasters. This is what a nightclub vending machine should include:

  • Superglue for rebellious heels
  • Nail glue
  • Eye drops
  • Chewing gum
  • Hairspray
  • Hair combs
  • Makeup meltdown fixers: make-up remover pads, mascara, eyeliner, lipgloss, concealer, body glitter
  • Deodorant
  • Wet wipes
  • Plasters for overworked feet
  • Fun gimmicks and accessories
  • Ladies’ sanitary items
  • Spare panties
  • Condoms (an essential)

5. Gym buddies

There’s nothing quite as annoying as arriving at the gym without one of your workout essentials. Wouldn’t it be nice if all gyms could have a health club vending machine that stocks things that you really can’t do without. Such as:

  • Padlocks
  • Earphones for cardio equipment
  • Energy and protein bars
  • Energy drinks
  • Mineral water
  • Hair elastics and clips
  • Armbands and headbands
  • Small towels
  • Antiperspirant
  • Sprain gel or ointment
  • Plasters
  • Socks
  • Underpants
  • Tissues