Prescription Pills, iPods and Live Bait: There’s a Vending Machine for That

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Doritos not cutting it anymore? Wishing there was a one-stop shop to satisfy all your live bait needs for fishing? Prescription pills? iPhones? You can get them all via vending machine.

Like so many other industries right now, vending machines have seen better days. According to industry publication Vending Times, sales from the machines fell more than 11% between 2007 and 2010, disappearing from 134,000 locations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

(MOREUniversity Vending Machine Dispenses the Morning-After Pill)

To reinvigorate the market, entrepreneurs are looking at different ways to make the most of the machine’s convenience factor. If you’ve been in an airport in the last few years, it’s likely you’ve seen the vending machines peddling electronics like headphones like Beats by Dre, gadget chargers, iPods and even iPhones.  Other airport vending machines sell makeup products or Nintendo games and devices.

Taking off with that idea, one Pennsylvania resident, Gary Harsel, has started “PA Live Bait Vending” as part of his tackle shop. The machines dispense a variety of live bait ($3.50 for a dozen, $6 for 24), and there are now more than 400 machines in operation. Minnows? Mealworms? All you have to do is press a button.

The pharmaceutical industry is getting in on the action too. InstyMeds Corps, a Minnesota-based company, has 200 machines across the country, allowing patients to get their prescriptions right at their health clinic. Patients punch in a special code given to them by their doctor, and then instantly have their prescriptions filled.

What products do you think could benefit from the convenience of a vending machine? Flowers and jewelry for those forgotten anniversaries? Scantrons and exam booklets at universities? Vending machines selling flats outside busy nightlife districts for women whose feet ache after a night of dancing? The possibilities are endless.

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