Vending machines

Leslie and Bill Bennett of Good to Go Vending stand next to their newly installed vending machine in the lobby of the East Social Center.

Lisa and Bill Bennett noticed a trend as they traveled through airports. While on the go and looking for a snack, none of the vending machines they ran across had anything they were remotely interested in eating.

“There's never anything healthy,” he said

So the couple, who retired to Sahuarita nine years ago, decided to do something about it. After finding the right machines from a company in Idaho Falls, Idaho, they started Good to Go Vending a few months ago. Finding contacts through the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, the business has gotten off to a small but steady start.

The Bennetts, who ran a flooring company in California, installed their fourth machine at Green Valley Recreation's East Center on Tuesday. In the past few weeks similar vending machines have been installed in the Rancho Sahuarita Clubhouse, the teacher's lounge at Sahuarita High School and a behavioral health center in Tucson. A fifth machine will be installed at GVR's Las Campanas Center in a couple weeks.

Bennett said the machines sell food and drink and dispense lower-calorie, lower-fat, higher protein options such as trail mix and protein bars, nuts, baked potato chips, V8 juice, Snapple and Gatorade.

“In a typical machine it would be hard to find something healthy; in our machines it's hard to find something unhealthy,” he said.

But that doesn't mean a customer can't still find a Coke or candy bar if the mood strikes them. Bennett said he works with customers to determine what they want to see when a craving strikes. But, on a whole, the foods will lean healthier than the options usually available.

The machines themselves are high-tech compared to the traditional models, coming with a touch screen interface and the ability to take payments via credit or debit cards. The technology also means the machines can be monitored remotely and Bennett can check if an item is running low off of his phone or tablet. Plus, the interface and credit card readers are just a tablet that will allow customers to directly report to Bennett any problems they might be experiencing with a machine. Most of the hard work is done up front setting the machines up, he said.

“Servicing them in the future will be the easy part,” he said.

So far the five machines are the extent of the business and Bennett admits he's not sure where the business will go from here. He and his wife know they will not get rich off the machines, but just wanted to supplement their income, he said.

Some of the proceeds of the machines at the GVR centers will go to the GVR Foundation. Bennett declined to say what the split would be and GVR did not return calls for comment.

David Rookhuyzen | 547-9728

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