“I think the business is going to get a little bigger again. We saw that in the epidemic,” says Georg Schwarz. Working with his family in St. Johann im Pongau, he operates vending machines all over Austria – about 3,000 in Vienna alone.
As shown in the cinema
Every two months, his driver, Hans Gruber, hits the road in a truck in Vienna filling shafts with new machinery. Classic goods remain chewing gum balls and chewing gum. However, there are also new licensed goods – from ToyStory and Minions to Paw Patrol. “Depending on what’s in the cinema,” Schwartz says. There are also shows for adults. In addition to condoms, underwear and vibrators are also sold in the restroom facilities.
The quality depends on the coin input
Goods come from merchants in Europe, especially Italy, but also from the Far East. “The value must match the coin insert,” Schwartz says of the quality. “If you pay 50 cents now, the quality will be different than if you toss in 2 euros — that’s obvious.” The mechanical throw system doesn’t give away much leeway when it comes to pricing, either. Only round sums are possible.
Vandalism and theft
The drivers not only replace the machines at the sites on a regular basis, but also clean the chassis eg footprints, change the locks and make sure the machines are in working condition again. Anything else would be bad for business.
However, vandalism and theft are still a problem. This year alone, more than 300 machines have been broken into in Vienna. “For us, the damage is greater than the loss of profits,” Schwartz says. “But of course there is money inside. But in terms of punishment, you ask yourself — is it worth it?”
One of the many measures against vandalism: before New Year’s Eve, the instruments are temporarily collected in Vienna or the structure is closed with a metal plate so that fireworks do not damage them.
Gumball machines in Vienna
Gum machines are everywhere in Vienna. They also need to be refilled regularly. A vending machine company driver reports, among other things, vandalism on nostalgic devices.
Work is changing
The future of mechanical vending machines depends, among other things, on whether people in Austria still prefer cash, but also on changes in public places. “It had to do with the architecture, because there was a lot of glass in the shops and where we installed the machines,” Schwartz says. “Sometimes classical instruments just don’t fit anymore. We’re up for the challenge there.”
Until now, vending machines had to be adapted visually and technically or moved indoors because they no longer had space outside. However, Schwarz is confident that the vending machine business, including on the street, will survive for a long time to come. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t do it.”