Spirit Box Nation: School Spirit Vending Machines

Rio Rancho High School has been the number Spirit Box in sales for 7 of the 12 months in 2019. In the month of February 2020, Rio Rancho generated over $3,500 in revenue and consistently brought in over $2,000 in revenue since September 2019. That is an amazing accomplishment for their team. We sensed the jealousy bubbling in many teams and felt it was time they shared their secrets!

A little bit about Rio Rancho, they are located in New Mexico with around 2,200 studeSpiriBox Nationnts in their school. They incorporate their Spirit Box activities within their DECA Marketing Class. They have a team of 6 students that work on the Spirit Box and their school store. Each class, four students work in their school store and 2 students work on the Spirit Box.

This is their third year running a Spirit Box and we had the opportunity to chat with Lucas, their Spirit Box Manager and Jason, the Spirit Box Team Advisor. In this interview Lucas and Jason shared with us their strategies, how they are growing, challenges, and an idea to help other Spirit Box schools take over the vending in their schools.

 Rio Rancho Experiments

With any business there are challenges to overcome. Sometimes ideas don’t pan out the way we hoped, or products just don’t sell. A great model that Rio Rancho exemplifies is the Lean Startup model. “The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development” –  (The Lean Startup). Rio Rancho exemplifies this by testing new products and strategies, pivoting into a new direction when something doesn’t do well, and continues to grow their business. Here are a few things Rio Rancho has tried and how they overcame the challenges along the way:

  • Testing an energy drink:

The drink didn’t fit well in the machine and wouldn’t vend properly. They are now getting a beverage machine to sell cold drinks out of.

  • Testing higher priced items:

Spirit Box Olatghe KsThe non-consumables such as apparel, didn’t sell as much so they shifted to almost entirely food. Jason stated that 60-70% of the school is on free or reduced lunch, so higher priced items don’t work as well. When they shifted to food their revenue increased rapidly and they became the top selling Spirit Box for 7 months in 2019.

  • They will buy small quantities of one item to see if it sells:

If it doesn’t sell well, they won’t restock it and if it does, they will then buy larger quantities. They take a low risk investment by trying out a new product. This helps you weed out products that won’t sell before buying in large quantities.

Growing Their Business Over Time

This is Rio Rancho’s third year running their Spirit Box. At this point, they are a well-oiled machine bringing in consistent sales. Since they know what sells and what doesn’t they do not have to do the leg work they once did when they started the Spirit Box. They restock their machine with what sells and have one tray for experimenting new products.

In the first few years; Rio Rancho took risks, asked students what they wanted in the machine, surveyed students the first few years, and tried out a variety of products. They began to understand who their target market was and what they were wanting to buy.

Currently, they are averaging around $150 in sales a day. “There are times where we refill [our Spirit Box] before lunch and other days where we need to refill it again after lunch,” states Jason, Rio Rancho Spirit Box Advisor. At times, keeping their machine fully stocked can be a challenge.

To accommodate this demand Rio Rancho is adding two additional Spirit Boxes this fall with the hope of increasing sales even further and reducing the need to restock the machines as frequently. They are introducing a snack machine and a beverage box machine. Consumables tend to sell better at their school so they are growing this part of their market.

Successful Strategies

Rio Rancho has created a variety of strategies in order to encourage customers to purchase from them:


  • Intercom Announcements

  • Posters around school

  • Social media: Rio Rancho Instagram


  • Almost everything is a dollar in their Spirit Box

  • Consumable products

    • Available to after school programming

Selling Strategy:

  • What they sell in their school store is not in their Spirit Box and Vice versa. This causes movement in both stores rather than just one of them

  • Limited time (temporary) products in the machine

School Vending MachinesDisrupting Vending in Your School

A new idea that has been floating around the Spirit Box community is disrupting the vending market as we know it in schools by taking over the full vending contract. What exactly does this mean? It means your Spirit Box team competes to be your school’s exclusive vending machine. Rio Rancho has done just that! Next year they will be the only vending machine at their school. This means all vending sales go to them instead of an outside company. This direction will help grow their Spirit Box business drastically.

The best part? ALL of the money goes back to their team and their school. Stay tuned as we share more information on how to do this!


Rio Rancho is a prime example of the evolution of a business. There is gradual growth, trial and error, successes, and failures in any business. Businesses, like Rio Rancho’s Spirit Box, are successful because they learn from each part of their journey and pivot as needed. Rio Rancho has displayed forward thinking and a plan for where they want their Spirit Box business to go. We hope you take some of these tips and apply some of them to your own Spirit Box business.

It is important to note, if you are a new business, to not compare where your business is today to someone else’s. Don’t compare your today to another school’s yesterday. Every business came with struggles and while things may be going smoothly now, it took time and effort to get there. Good luck as you grow your Spirit Box and as always, we are here to support you! Have questions or want to chat?

Reach out! info@spiritboxnation.com, call 417-501-9544. https://www.spiritboxnation.com/

SpiriBox Nation

 Vending Technology News | More News | Vending Newsletter sign up | Questions? Contact us | email press release
Also see: Software Companies | Technology Companies | Micro Markets | Cashless Vending Solutions | Distributors | Classified Ads | Routes for sale | Vending Companies USA | Home |

Call us at 1-800-956-8363, POST YOUR COMPANY, GET NEW BUSINESS!