How much can I make with cart vending?

June 12th, 2011 by

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Of course, How much you can make in the Cart Vending business is always the million dollar question. First of all, Its impossible to completely predict how much you’ll make because that depends on a multitude of factors. These factors include:

  • How many days a year you want to work?
  • How often you will use employees instead of running the operation yourself?
  • How soon will you expand to multiple carts and hire help?
  • What type of product you will sell?
  • Where you will sell your products?

With all of the above said I will try and give you a few examples for you to get the general idea of what you can expect to make if you work the cart yourself and plan to do so for 6 months out of the year. So, Without further delay…



If you are going to sell pre-packaged novelties (ice cream bars, fruit bars, cups, etc.) you are going to pay a supplier anywhere from $.35 to $1.75 per unit. In some cases, you’ll pay over $1.75 for an item, but that would be the exception. In other cases, you might pay below $.35 for an item, but that again is the exception. Cost depends on size, quality, etc. Haagen-Dazs and Dove Bars are great sellers, and these will be closer to the $1.75 per unit cost. Fruit Bars like FrozFruit, Fruiti, Edy’s Fruit, etc. will run you about $.75 per unit.

Your retail (what you sell your product to the customer for) will vary greatly depending on where you are selling and what it is costing you to sell from that location or at that event. You really have to get to know your typical customer and then adjust your product mix and pricing according to that typical customer. Ideally, you want to make close to 3 times what you pay for the item, except when you are selling the high-end stuff that’s costing you around $1.75 per item. These you can sell for 2 times cost. The reason is that the actual profit on an item that costs you $1.75 when you retail if for 2 times cost will sometimes make you the same or more than a lower cost item that you retail for 3 times cost. I’ll give you an example:

Cart Vending Chart breaking down your personal profit for each product

Haagen-Dazs or Dove Bar:

Cost: $1.75
Retail: $3.50 (2 times wholesale or 2 X $1.75)
Profit: $1.75


Fruit Bar or Snicker’s Ice Cream Bar:

Cost $.75
Retail: $2.25 (3 times wholesale or 3 X $.75)
Profit: $1.50


In the above example, the Haagen-Dazs bar, at 2 (2 X $1.75 = $3.50) wholesale nets you more dollar profit than the Fruit Bar at 3 times wholesale.

A Nelson BDC-8 Pushcart can hold 500 to 800 single novelties, depending on your mix of items. Assuming your average novelty item sells for $2, you can have $1200 to $1600 dollars worth of retail inventory in your cart. A pretty good sales day if you go through it all.

If you target a daily take home profit of $200 for a typical event, your target sales revenue would be about $550 and your profit and loss statement could look like this (assuming you will get about 250 customers that day):



Sales Revenue $550
Cost of Goods Sold (what you paid for the novelties) $250
Gross Profit (profit before expenses) $300


General Expenses:
Site Fee or Daily Rent ($ 50)
Bank Loan ($400-month payment divided by 10 events in month) ($ 40)
Gas to get back and forth from location ($ 10)
Day’s Profit $200
Months Profit $2000 (10 selling days X 200 per day)


If you were selling Italian Ice (more profitable but not necessarily more sales) , which you could buy for an average of about $20 per 2.5-gallon tub (approx 80,  4oz servings out of a tub) your profit/loss statement for the day could look like this:

Chart Cost and profit of Cart Vending

*assuming you will get about 250 customers that day


Sales Revenue (250 servings @ $2.5 each)                     $625

Cost of Goods Sold (what you paid for the ice )          $60 (3 tubs X $20)

Gross Profit (profit before expenses)                            $625


General Expenses:

Site Fee or Daily Rent                                                                             ($ 50)

Bank Loan ($400-month payment divided by 10 events in month)         ($ 40)

Gas to get back and forth from location                                                  ($ 10)

Day’s Profit                                $525

Months Profit                             $5000 (10 selling days X 220 per day)



This is a very general example of profitability. There are so many factors that will influence what kind of money you can make doing this and they are hard to list. You really have to use your common sense and find places where you can sell that have high foot traffic and little competition.


Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
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