A starting single-head gumball machine can run anywhere from $100 over a thousand based on its capacity, looks, and durability. Assuming a profit of about 22 cents per gumball, at least 500 gumballs are needed to pay off the cheapest machine. So yes, gumball machines are almost always profitable; it is just a matter of time. Since you could always sell the gumball machine, it is easy to break even at least.
Thankfully, gumball machines are low maintenance. Weekly refills should be enough but it is important to keep the machines relatively full; loaded gumball machines are more appealing to buy from.
Do people still chew chewing gum? According to Statista, in 2020, about 173.4 Americans have chewed bubble gum and over 23 million of Americans are habitual chewers (chewed 16 or more chewing gum within the past week). So do not worry if your bubble gum machine is not moving enough gumballs at first; it’s not at an optimal location with plenty of foot traffic.
How much money do gumball machines make?
Typically Sam’s Club or Costco will carry gumballs for a lower price than online retailers. Look around for the best deals and gumball quality.
A box of 850 Dubble Bubble gumballs costs (at the time of publishing) $68.50 or 8 cents a gumball.
Selling 850 gumballs for a quarter each is $212.50 in total. That’s a profit of $0.17 per gumball. It would take 600 gumballs to make $100 a month!
4 Tips to Increase Gumball Sales
Keep the machine loaded. A nearly full gumball machine is more attractive to buy from than a nearly empty gumball machine. Half-full is better than half-empty.
Place it where people are likely to carry change. It’s hard to put coins in a gumball machine when you don’t carry any change! Gas stations, laundromats, and arcades are excellent examples of people coming and going with extra change.
Look for lots of foot traffic. Placing gumball machines next to the door instead of outside the restroom will have more chances of making the sale. Each person that walks through the door equals 2 chances to take their quarter.
Use plastic capsules with small prizes. These can often be cheaper per unit than the gumballs. However, use this sparingly so it seems more “valuable” to get one.
What are some good maintenance and record-keeping habits?
Buy cheap, buy twice. If you start with a cheaper gumball machine, it is more prone to breaking and jamming.
The shelf-life of gumballs before they harden and go stale is around 1 year. Depending on your machine, monthly or weekly maintenance of refilling gumballs will be enough.
Make sure you are keeping track of how often you are collecting the quarters. Try to have a consistent schedule to better track how much the gumball machine is making each week or month.
Check your local and state permit laws for vending!
You can’t just plop down the gumball machine anywhere; you will need permission! (If you own your own store or place to serve the gumballs, even better)
Some stores will require a rental fee, a commission on each gumball, or both!
You could potentially bypass this by working with a charity partner where you give a cut to a local charity each month.