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Vending machine operators feel fallout of abandoned break rooms, closed schools | Local Business

Now, machines send daily alerts, notifying stockers remotely of what items are getting low, which aren’t selling and how much money is inside.

“That’s been a huge deal pre-COVID but it’s even more of a big deal now,” said David Griesedieck, co-owner of Griesedieck Vending Co. in Overland.

Griesedieck has also seen an increase in business from micro markets, a new trend that works like a convenience store but without a cashier. Customers pick their salad, sandwich or drink from a rack or a cooler and pay at a kiosk on their way out.

But overall, 2020 has been an unparalleled struggle. Griesedieck has owned the company, founded by his father in 1971, for 35 years. He brought on a partner 18 months ago.

“No doubt about it, this is the most challenging it’s been,” he said.

During the spring shutdown, his staff had to empty the contents of multiple machines, throwing out or donating to food pantries thousands of dollars worth of chips, candy, soda and tea.

He’s had to furlough and then lay off six of his 23 employees since March. Many of his machines are sitting idle, and he’s had to downsize routes.

But there have been bright spots. Some new accounts are “going gangbusters,” Griesedieck said, and some existing ones have started to rebound.

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