Baltimore, Md. vendor finds success with blister pack gum, converts candy machines to provide more gum

Scott Meskin, president of Black Tie Services Inc. in Baltimore, Md. is in the process of converting all snack machines to include gum trays that can vend blister pack gum. The larger packages allow him to get much higher priced products and consumers are paying the prices.

He got into the blister pack gum a year and a half ago when he got his first Merchant Six machine from Crane, which has a row for larger pack gum and an overall larger capacity. He got a total 35 Merchant Six machines.

The Crane Merchant Six drove total machine sales by 20 to 50 percent. He initially went to alternative sources such as membership warehouse clubs to get higher priced candy and gum not available from vend product distributors.

He is now buying the gum direct from Kraft Cadbury.

He has raised gum prices from $1.25 to $1.50 to $1.75 since he began offering it, and the velocity has held steady. “They’re really selling,” he said. He is selling Altoids for $2.50.

The Vendors Exchange International Inc. gum tray program is great because it includes free product with the gum trays. He has retrofitted 150 glassfront machines with the VEII tray. “Nothing leaves here without a gum and mint tray. I really like that bottom tray,” he said.

The VEII tray allows him to add gum without cannibalizing any existing products. When he adds the tray, total machine sales jump by 15 to 20 percent.

He is now able to cash in on the popularity of blister pack gum. “I’ve never seen so many selections of gum. Gum has become so popular,” he said. The Cadbury items are particularly strong sellers.