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Discovering the Top Vending Hotspots Across America

Discover the hottest locations for vending machines in the US! Use our guide to find the nation's premier vending machine hotspots.

November 10, 2023


In his first law of motion (the law of inertia), Sir Isaac Newton stated that a body remains at rest, or in motion at a constant speed in a straight line, unless acted upon by a force. Inertia is a real thing, and it may even determine how successful your vending machine business becomes. See, most consumers are in a state of inertia; they are either habitually using a product or service, or they are not. People are more likely to buy from your new vending machine if they have purchased from vending machines before. 

It makes sense, therefore, to set up a new vending machines in a market with a large population of people who constantly buy products from vending machines. In this post, I will introduce you to the top vending hotspots across America.

How Popular Are Vending Machines in the US?

The United States has the highest number of vending machines of any country, with five million vending machines owned by over 17,000 operators spread across the country. According to Vending Market Watch, small operators with annual revenues of less than $1 million control 67.1% of the vending market. Moreover, of the five million vending machines in the US, two million are in active operation, and they generate $7.4 billion in annual revenue.

What Are the Top Vending Locations in the US?

map of united states with pins signaling best vending machine locations

New vending machines do well in locations with a lot of foot traffic. Sales will vary based on population size, disposable income, and market preferences. Across the country, you can see success with your vending venture if you set up at the following locations:

  • Apartment complexes. Residential complexes can house more than 1,000 people.
  • Motels. Motels have significant traffic of people who tend to travel light which is a great spot for new vending machines.
  • Shopping malls. These tend to attract high-traffic on foot which is great for your vending machines.
  • Schools and college dorms. Snack vending machine, drinks, ramen, and late-night supplies make for great vending products for college kids.
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical practices. Waiting areas for such establishments are excellent locations.
  • Factories and warehouses. Any complex with a large workforce, such as a manufacturing facility, factory, or warehouse, is excellent for vending.
  • Car dealerships. Lots of people that check out cars at dealerships every day could check out your vending equipment.
  • Other excellent locations include airports, gyms, and gas stations. 

What Are the Top Vending Machine Brands and Models in the US?

The United States has many reliable vending machine brands. The top vending machine brands are:

  • Crane Merchandising System (Crane National)
  • AMS Vending Machines
  • U-Select-It (USI) Vending Machines
  • Selectivend Vending Machines
  • Seaga Vending Machines
  • Necta Vending Machines
  • Royal Vendors

The best snack vending machine models I’d recommend are Crane Nation 167, Automatic Products 113, and Automatic Products LCM. For drinks vending machines, you should consider getting the Dixie Narco BevMax-4, Dixie Narco BevMax-3, or the Royal Vendors 804.

Hottest Cities for Vending Machines in the United States

coca-cola vending machine in a big city at night

Vending in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA, has a population of 496,461, with the metro area having more than six million people. A typical household in the Atlanta metro area spends about $5,753 on food annually at home and $3,322 away from home. Your snack and drinks vending machines in Atlanta can grab a portion of these dollars.

The city already has an established culture in using vending machines ith several vending operators, including:

  • Delightful Vending
  • Metro One Vending LLC
  • Red Hawk Vending

Find more top vending companies in Atlanta here.

You will need to get appropriate permits and licenses from local authorities to place your vending equipment, depending on your vending products and type of location (streets, sidewalks, or private property). Visit official government website to see how to get licence specifically in Atlanta, Georgia. Fulton and DelKab’s County Boards of Health, as well as the Georgia Department of Agriculture, are responsible for regulations and policies about food vending. To vend pre-packaged food items, you will need a food license from the Department of Agriculture or a letter noting that you don’t require a license. You will use this license or letter when applying for your vending permit from the City of Atlanta.

Vending in Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA, has about 3.9 million city residents, making it the second-most populous American city, behind New York. The typical Los Angeles household spends $5,679 on food annually at home and another $4,495 away from home. Los Angeles has a great vending industry, and your vending equipment is likely to succeed in the city provided it is in a decent location.

The city has an established vending market with several vending operators, including:

  • Absolute Vending Machines
  • Los Angeles Repair and Services
  • David’s Vending Sales and Repairs

Discover more top vending companies around Los Angeles, CA.

Before you can place your vending equipment in Los Angeles, you must get a Business Tax Registration Certificate (BTRC), California State Sellers Permit, L.A. County Public Health Permit, and also pay a vending permit fee to the city. The permit is valid for 12 months and must be renewed on expiry. Operating a vending equipment without proper licenses or permits in Los Angeles can attract fines of up to $1,000.

Vending in San Jose, CA

San Jose, CA, has a population of 1.01 million with a median household income of $125,175. This is significantly higher than the general US median household income of $70,784. The city is friendly to small businesses and already has an established vending machine market. According to Biz2Credit, San Jose topped the Top 10 Best Small Business Cities in the United States in 2021. 

There are several operators that service vending equipment and offer technical support in San Jose, including:

  • Me Fit Vending
  • Silicon Valley Refreshments
  • C&S Vending Inc

Find more information about top vending companies around San Jose, CA.

Santa Clara County Health Department and the City of San Jose are responsible for licensing and regulating vending machine businesses. You must secure appropriate licenses and permits from the local authorities before setting up a vending machine in the city. Generally, you will need at least a business license and a seller's permit.

Vending in Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, FL, has 971,319 city residents, access to a beach, and shorts and t-shirt weather for most of the year. The city has a short, mild winter from January through February, and then it is pretty warm for the rest of the year, making it a perfect spot to vend snacks with snack vending machines or cold drinks, water, and ice. It is easy to start a vending business in the city as it is significantly small business friendly. Of the cities in Florida, it ranks second behind only Sarasota in small business climate rankings.

The city has several great vending machine operators, including:

  • Jacksonville Vending Company
  • VendingWhale
  • Premier Vending Services

Depending on the type of vending business and location, you will need various permits and licenses from Duval County and the City of Jacksonville to operate a vending business. Contact the local authorities for guidance.

Vending in Houston, TX

Houston, TX, has 2.3 million city residents and 7.1 million people in the greater Houston metro area. A typical household in the Houston metro area spends $3,680 on food at home and another $3,169 away from home. Your vending machine business can get a portion of this expenditure.

The city already has several vending machine operators that offer technical support, including:

  • Texas Snack Company
  • Free vendors
  • Barrette Vending

Permits required to run vending machines in Houston vary depending on products and vending location. Check with Harris County and the local office to be compliant. Generally, you may need a registration certificate, a tax permit, a vending business license, and a beverage license.

Vending in Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL, has 2.7 million city residents and over 9.4 million in the greater metropolitan area. The average household in the Chicago metro area spends $5.629 on food annually at home and another $3,741 away from home. The city has several perfect machine locations with a lot of foot traffic that can host snack vending machines and soda vending machines.

Chicago is an established vending machine market with several operators, including:

  • Premier Vending Co
  • GLC Vending
  • Avcoa Vending

To start a vending business in Chicago, you will need a business license from the city and the state. Additional licenses and permits may apply depending on the vending location and products you plan to sell. Contact the local authority for guidance.

Vending in Pittsburgh, PA

With a population of 300,431 in the city and 2.4 million in the metro area, Pittsburgh is big enough to support several extensive vending routes. To run a successful vending business, you need locations with lots of foot traffic. Pittsburgh is one of the most walkable cities in America, with the metro area ranking 9th in walkability, according to Smart Growth America. 

Pittsburgh is an established vending market with several vending machine operators, including:

  • Mya Vending
  • Sherbo Vending Services
  • Cee Vee Vending

To install a vending machines in Pittsburgh, you will need a Stationary Vendor License from the city. Where the vending machine is in the Strip District inside a private property, you are exempt from getting a vending permit or occupancy permit from the city/state. You will still need written permission from the property owner, though. 

Vending in New York City, NY

According to Smart Growth America, New York City is the most walkable city in the United States, making it an excellent prospect for vending machines that often need lots of foot traffic to be profitable. With 8.8 million city residents, it is also the most densely populated city in America. A typical New York metro area household spends $6,639 on food annually at home and another $4,004 away from home, and you can get a portion of this with your snacks and soda vending machines.

New York City has several vending machine operators, including:

  • Balanced Vending
  • Intel Foods
  • Consolidated Vending NY

New York City requires a General Vendor license to sell products in a vending machine in a public place that is not a store. Registrations required include a business license/permit, Vending Machines DBA (Doing Business As), a Federal Tax ID (EIN), and a seller’s permit.

Closing Thoughts

The best markets for vending machines are cities where you can build an extensive vending route with locations close to each other. Regardless if it's the new machine or refurbished machines good location is one with reliable foot traffic throughout the year. The cities I have covered above have decent walkability, lots of people with disposable income, and an established vending machine culture. If you need help finding potential vending machine locations in these cities or a city/town near you, check out our vending locator service.

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