“Vend a Tee” from Impressions Magazine

Dayton, Ohio-based Innovative Vending Solutions wants to take vending beyond the usual bottled soft drinks and snack foods. Instead, the company’s machines are capable of dispensing T-shirts, jeans, flip flops – nearly any reasonably vendable product – in a fast, convenient method that requires no employees and low overhead.

The inspiration for Innovative Vending Solutions started with company owner Patrick McDonald’s son, who had muscular dystrophy. “He was really into T-shirts and anime, so my wife Pam thought of him starting an online store offering anime T-shirts and novelty items,” McDonald explains.

Shortly after their son passed away, the couple opened a brick-and-mortar store, Nick’s Novel-Tee’s. Still, McDonald wanted to sell products to consumers without opening additional retail locations. He devised the concept of T-shirt vending machines and sketched a prototype, adding wheels so that the machine could be mobile. Just a few months later, he and Jeff Thibodeau, vice president, started Mobil- Tee-Vending, now a division of Innovation Vending Solutions LLC.

McDonald says the customizable machines can be built with LCD displays featuring a company’s name, Web site and other pertinent contact details.

“These machines [enable] touch-screen [vending], can collect e-mail addresses [for marketing via e-newsletters and promotion announcements], are capable of featuring alarms and security cameras, and print thermal receipts for [easy] returns [via] company Web sites or contact phone numbers.”