Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Sub-Let-O-Vend

Do you really need the whole thing?
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Placed in public, crowded locations, drawing attention with bright colours, bright lights and fun mechanical noises, providing reliable service to regular customers as well as attracting the interest of impulse buyers, vending machines are a great way of marketing a product, or at least they would be if they weren't huge expensive cumbersome beasts that few can afford, and the intricacies of the leasing / financing / rent / refilling / maintenance deals are beyond the grasp of common folk (mostly because the details are so boring), who only expect to stick money in and get candy out of the thing, and the rest may well be magic for all they care.

In other words, vending machines are quick, simple and easy things from the customer's point of view, but complicated and expensive things from the sellers'. Why, then, not make selling from a vending machine as easy as buying from one?

The Sub-Let-O-Matic is a vending-machine-vending machine. Sort of. A mechanical, corporeal eBay.

For a daily fee (payable in coins), you get the use of one compartment of the vending machine. Stock it with whatever you're selling (making sure it's the right type of vending machine; you can't sell ice cream sandwiches from a Hello Kitty keychain dispenser), set a price tag, and let the machine take care of the rest. After your "lease" period is over, the machine stores unsold items in a separate compartment where you can reclaim them by entering a predetermined code. You can, of course, top up the machine with more coins if you wish to extend your lease of the compartment.

Additional options could include informing you of the stock status and other info via text messages, and you could set the minimum and maximum price tag for your product and have the machine work in "free market" mode, adjusting the price based on demand.

From the buyers' point of view, it's a regular vending machine. Insert coin, press button, receive product.

With some safety measures to prevent drug trafficking and/or food poisoning, and screening for illegal merchandise like bootleg CDs or such, the Sub-Let-O-Matic could become a good way for people to insinuate their product onto the market and under the noses of passerby on a (very) small scale. Perfect for various handicraft hobbyists, tinkerers, or maybe just someone who would like to get rid of three dozen porcelain puppies clogging up their shelves and maybe make a buck or two in the process.

Veho, Apr 07 2009

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       At my college library, there was a vending machine from which one could buy miniature handmade blank books for about five bucks. It was a class project. I would love to see this concept extended. [+]
gisho, Apr 07 2009
  

       Brilliant. I'd be a frequent visitor. [+]
Srimech, Apr 09 2009
  

       I love the idea of stacking the machine with autonomous devices that reach over and purloin other items, holding them ransom until someone drops enough coin and dials the appropriate number.   

       In time, other vendors might grow wise to this, and populate their products with countermeasures, eventually leading to a Darwinian inter-product arms race.
zen_tom, Apr 09 2009
  

       I doubt such a machine would have illegal drugs or pirate CDs in them. The seller would have to return to the device to collect the money, which after many hours/days in public view could easily have been reported to the police and put under surveillance.   

       Oh yeah, great idea BTW.
Bad Jim, Apr 09 2009
  

       Most excellent idea. I could fill a hundred of these. +
xenzag, Apr 09 2009
  

       Would it be like a vending machine personal "tag sale"? Now I get it. This is a very nice idea. Spring cleaning has me tossing out stuff I could sell if I had a small compartment and a tag and a few minutes to place it in to.
blissmiss, Apr 09 2009
  

       ... furthermore, people who worked near the location of the vending machine could stock it with snacks they knew they liked, and have convenient access plus the possibility of profit. It's annoying trying to keep track of what machine within easy reach of your workplace is stocked with what.
gisho, Apr 10 2009
  

       The more I mull this over the more it has grown on me. I even like the way the idea was written a lot.   

       I think we will see this very soon in the near future.
blissmiss, Apr 10 2009
  

       Totally unsuitable for food. Great for many other purposes. (+)   

       Also, it gives me an idea...
GutPunchLullabies, Apr 10 2009
  
      
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