How to Convert a Soda Machine Into Live Bait Vending
By Mike Andrews
Updated September 26, 2017
Anywhere there's a high interest in fishing--whether it be an ocean, river or lake, a campground or just a roadside shop--people will need bait. And while there are many effective baits for various types of fishing, live bait is one of the most effective for a wide variety of fish. This makes it a favorite among fishing enthusiasts. That's why converting a soda machine into a live bait vending machine can be so profitable.
Order 12-ounce, 16-ounce or 20-ounce live bait containers if you collect your own bait to sell, or order pre-packaged live bait from a sportsman wholesale supplier. (See the Resources for a partial list of live bait wholesalers.) Begin by ordering a minimal amount of product so that you can test the results of your live bait vending before ordering more than you'll be able to sell in a reasonable period of time.
Open the soda machine with its barrel key and unscrew the lock, allowing the door to swing open. Once it's opened, remove any soda products still in the machine and thoroughly clean each compartment to ensure that any dirt, dust or stickiness from spills has been removed.
Adjust the width of the vending coils or compartments to accommodate your live bait containers. Soda machines with vending coils turn their coils one full turn in order to vend products, so you should adjust the width of each coil as necessary to fit the bait containers. Soda machines with plastic vertical compartment controls generally cannot be adjusted.
Re-set the machine's temperature setting to accommodate live bait. While soda machines are often set just a few degrees above freezing in order to keep the soda ice cold, Wholesale Bait recommends setting the temperature above freezing but below 55 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize the lifespan of the bait and minimize loss. Ideally, you should include an exterior thermometer with an interior temperature lead on the machine so you can check the temperature regularly from the outside.
Re-set the prices for each of the compartments in the machine. Depending upon the soda machine model, re-setting the prices will require rearranging DIP switches attached to each compartment (older models) or re-programming a central computer chip in the machine with each compartment's price (newer models). Carefully note which price you set on each compartment so you can correctly label the options afterward.
Fill the converted soda machine with live bait, being careful to set each container securely in each vending compartment. Take note of which bait products are placed in which compartments for ease of labeling your selections later. Once you have filled the machine, screw in the machine's exterior lock and push it into its final position.
Label each of the new selections for display with the vending buttons. This is generally done on the exterior of the front of the machine. Be sure that each label and price corresponds to the product inside and that differently priced products (if any) are clearly indicated.
Mike Andrews is a freelance writer and serial entrepreneur focused on small-business and entrepreneurship for average people. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and a master's degree in theology and has appeared in a wide array of print and online periodicals including "HiCall," "Mature Living" and "Caregivers Home Companion."