Gumball Machine Business, Starting a Business

10 Fun Items to Put in a Gumball Machine

what to put in a gumball machine

When I started my gumball machine business as a kid, I admittedly didn’t think there was much to it. Just add gumballs, right?

Wrong! It was my dad who came up with the idea to put different types of items into the machine.

The items you choose to fill your colorful, coin-operated dispenser can significantly impact its profitability. I played around with placing many different things in my gumball machine, which is one reason why I think I had higher-than-average earnings!

Whether you’re looking to cater to kids, collectors, or the young at heart, selecting the right inventory is crucial for attracting customers and making your gumball machine a lucrative venture.

In this guide, I will share my favorite items to put in a gumball machine to increase your profits!

Table of Contents

1. Gumballs

Admittedly, this is for sure the most obvious thing to put in a gumball machine!

That being said, there are many different things you can still do to make your gumballs unique. For example, you could offer sugar-free gumballs!

You could also find better quality gumballs than the ones that come with the machine. Most gumballs lose flavor in less than 5 minutes.

Buying higher-quality gumballs could increase your customer retention and return rate. On the flip side, less flavorful gumballs sometimes lead to repeat sales to the same person!

2. Candy

Another popular item to put in gumball machines is candy. You will want to test this one out to make sure nothing gets stuck in the spiral!

Rounder candies and small candies are going to be your best bet. You might want to place them in plastic balls so that you don’t run the risk of them getting stuck in your gumball machine.

Alternatively, you could just get a candy machine and place it next to your gumball machine!

3. Toys

Little figurines are one of my favorite things to put in a machine because they are so eye-catching.

Most gumball machine owners don’t bother to make their machines more fun. That is why it is so easy to make a machine stand out with toys!

You will definitely want to place these in a visible part of the machine! I always placed a few towards the bottom, top, and sides of the machine. This makes them feel very obtainable.

 It also stops people from shaking the machine as much as trying to get the toys to the bottom. I wish that I was joking but this is a real issue. Even with grown adults.

4. Bouncy Balls

I know these are classified as a toy but they deserve a category of their own!

Bouncy balls pair perfectly with gumball machines because they blend in and are a fun surprise!

Kids won’t see it until they are close to the machine and you can bet they will draw the attention of everyone in the store as they yell about it to their parents in excitement.

Be sure to put these in a plastic capsule and clearly label it. This will help ensure people don’t mistake it for gum. I know it feels silly to think this mistake could happen but kids in particular might miss this fact in their excitement.

5. Cash

Nothing incentivizes people to lose a few quarters like the chance of winning one dollar. Be sure to fold the bill in a way that the dollar amount is visible!

If you’ve seen the TikTok trend about “girl math”, this is basically the same principle in action.

Believe it or not, I actually have a way to make money even more exciting. If you go to your bank, you should be able to pick up two dollar bills and gold coins.

Since people rarely see these in circulation, they will get super excited to see this!

You might even place a $5 bill right at the top. I’m not going to lie, I would always just move this one back to the top when I refilled the machine. People would often assume that there could be more big bills floating around but I would only ever place one five because.. Profit of course!

6. Coupons

I’ve never done this one before but I regret not trying it out!

You can print small coupons for whatever business the gumball machine is located in. This would be great for encouraging repeat customers to both your business and the gumball machine.

You don’t have to get crazy with this one. Even a 10% off coupon would be enough to excite people. This could even go a long way towards convincing parents to let their kids put a coin in!

7. Quotes and Fortunes

Create custom quotes, fortunes, or inspirational messages printed on small pieces of paper that customers can retrieve from the machine.

I’m not going to lie, I was totally thinking about fortune cookies with this one!

This can be an affordable alternative to some of the other options as well. Besides the plastic balls to place them in, all you really need to do is print the quotes out yourself!

8. Stickers

The only thing that might excite a kid more than gumballs is stickers.

Depending on the kid’s age, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they are more excited for this than money!

Make sure you get gender-neutral stickers so that the kids aren’t disappointed.

9. Temporary Tattoos

This feels like a blast from the past but I’m willing to bet kids still love a temporary tattoo.

I’m not even kidding you when I say I was looking at some of these the other day at an Ulta with my friend. We are both in our 20s and were embarrassingly close to purchasing some “friendship tattoos”.

They even have temporary tongue tattoos like the ones you find on fruit roll-ups.

10. Seasonal Items

Perhaps it’s because I just wrote a post on Why Halloween is a Big Business that I was inspired to include this one!

Picture this: a small little glow-in-the-dark ghost toy!

It might be a bit more challenging to find miniature seasonal items to put in a gumball machine… but I bet no one else is doing it yet!

You can even take most of the ideas from above and put a seasonal twist on them.

Final Thoughts on What to Put in a Gumball Machine

To generate more revenue from a gumball machine, it’s important to offer items that people find attractive and are willing to pay for.

You have several options, including gumballs, small toys, bouncy balls, surprise capsules, miniature collectibles, jewelry, stickers, temporary tattoos, quotes or fortunes, customized items, small snacks, and seasonal or themed items.

Pricing your items appropriately and placing the machine in a high-traffic location are key factors in maximizing your profits. Regular restocking and maintenance are also crucial for ensuring a steady income stream!

What would you put in a gumball machine? Have you ever received something fun from a gumball machine?

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