The conversation between Brian Strickland and his family started off by identifying that Uptown Jackson does not have a place to get just a soda.
The consensus turned to purchasing a vending machine and placing it at 113 W. Main Street at Strickland Engineering. The vending machine project was placed in the hands of 13-year-olds Conner and Carter Strickland, twin sons of Brian.
Research on what type of machine to buy and how to raise funds to purchase it launched the idea to the next phase.
A combination drink/snack machine was agreed upon. Conner’s research led him to American Vending Machines in Saint Louis. The $3,600 price tag was an obstacle, but not one without a solution. The partnership between Grandma Diana Hobeck, and brothers, Conner and Carter brought the idea to fruition.
Conner soon discovered the space they planned to place the machine at Strickland Engineering was just too small, so a little more brainstorming was in order.
“We kicked around location ideas and inquired at the new County Courthouse,” said Brian. It was not something they were interested in. “My brother, Mark, suggested the Jackson Police Department.”
“I sent an e-mail to Asst. Captain Scott Eakers, and he said they needed it,” said Conner.
The machine is stocked with a variety of soft drinks, Gatorade and sweet tea, plus an assortment of chips and candy.
“We made a big Sam’s order for it and are storing everything at my dad’s building,” said Conner.
Lt. Alex Broch said, “This was a great idea since sometimes we don’t want to go out and get this.” With a lot of places closing early due to changes in business practices since COVID-19, this makes it a little more convenient for the police. “We were thinking of doing it as soon as we moved in. We had an old one but have done without a vending machine for five or six years,” said Broch.
While it seemed most of the young entrepreneurs issues were resolved, there still were some unforeseen obstacles ahead.
“The 700-pound machine was too heavy for the appliance dolly,” said Carter. With the help of a lift on the back of a Siemer’s Best Brand Plus truck, they were able to get it off the trailer and as far as the double doors at the Jackson Police Department entrance.
Uh-oh. One double door just would not unlock. “We had to call the contractor to come fix the door,” said Conner. “It just wouldn’t open. Maybe it was jammed or something.”
Once the door was fixed, Siemer’s Best Brand Plus helped out to get the vending machine to the break room. By Tuesday, June 16, the vending machine was up and running.
Conner, who is enjoying a Jackson summer school project working with athlete stats, said, “I’m making money while I sleep.”
He and his brother both mow for their grandparents to earn money, but this new business venture is a step toward year-round revenue.
The card reader on the vending machine supplies time, date and amount for monitoring sales. The first day’s sales registered $20.
Without hesitation, Conner said his future plan is to pay everybody back first and then save for college.
“They are going to be eighth graders — soon high school. With our office uptown this is something they can keep up with and maintain over the years,” said Brian.