It may seem counterintuituve to start a gumball machine business in a recession like the one we are experiencing now, but NOW may be the best time to do it.

As an all-cash, low-maintenance business, starting a candy or gumball machinevending route is relatively easy. There are no employees to hire, the product is inexpensive to purchase, the margin on product is high, and there is a built-in consumer base ready to purchase your products 24/7.

Best of all, consumers in this penny-wise atmosphere consider a 25-cent or 50-cent treat as a toss-away — they don’t stop to worry about the cost of treating their child to a gumball or handful or candy. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of gumball machine configurations, allowing a startup business to control initial costs with low-cost machines or swing for the fences with a larger configuration or one that holds differing varities of product.

The steps to getting a vending business going sound simple, but require some critical thinking and a willingness to adjust your approach. Steps include:

1. Scouting out and securing locations for your machines. Often, this will mean paying a royalty to the property owner, either based on a fixed amount or a percentage of sales. If you are able to get some or all of your machines affilitied with a charity or charities, then this cost may disappear — although you will still need to pay to the charity.

2. Purchase your machines. Despite what many say, it is not always the smartest move to purchase used machines. You can run into unexpected mechanical difficulties; contaminated product globes or chutes,  and other issues. A brand new machine ensures cleanliness, mechanical reliability, and a beautiful appearance.

3. Purchase your product. Buy your bulk candy or gum from a reputable vendor. If you have a real unique location, you can even re-purpose your machine fortreats for dogs or to sell high-end product. Obviously, you will need work with your gumball machine vendor for unusual needs. They can also send you instructions on how to set the coin mechanism for a desired purchase amount.

4. Maintain your business. Keep a schedule for collection of funds, refilling of product, and the timing of those events. If a machine is doing poorly in a paricular location, consider changing the product you are selling, move it to a new one or double up at a profitable location. Trial and error (and some thoughtful record keeping) will keep your business growing on the right track.

Once you get started, simply plow a percentage of the proceeds back into your business to purchase product and additional machines. Over time, and with careful attention to vending at the best possible locations, you will have a recession-proof business to call your own.