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Missoula kids cash in with vending machine venture

Posted at 8:18 AM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 10:18:13-04

MISSOULA — Pint sized and poised, Missoula has a new businessman in town. He travels with his colleagues, both of whom share the same entrepreneurial spirit and the same last name.

Ages 7, 8, and 9, these three dream in quarters and candy - meet the Colsons.

Pointing to his sister and cousin, leader Ezra Colson said, “They own machines too. He has one and she has three. I have nine machines.”

When he was just six-years-old, a lazy day scrolling through Youtube led Ezra and his father to a video about vending machines.

Like getting your favorite flavor of gumball with your very last quarter - the stars aligned.

“This guy was filling up his vending machines, and we got interested in the idea, then I started doing it for one year, then my sister turned 6 and then she started to do it, then we started to build it up,” said Ezra.

Once a month, the family makes their rounds to a total of 13 vending machines, all owned and operated by the Colson kids.

Places like Billion Auto Kia, Lithia Ford, Denny Menholt University Honda are just a few of the Missoula businesses to have partnered with the young entrepreneurs. Photos of Ezra shaking hands with fellow Missoula business owners appear on the Colson Kids Vending Facebook page.

“I have one at a barber shop, but we’ve noticed that these places are the ones that make the most money,” Ezra explained, gesturing to the car dealership where one of his machines is located.

With their own credit cards, Ezra, his sister Eden, and their cousin Moses purchase the candy from a grocery store, they fill up the machines, run a quick test, and collect their earnings.

For Ezra, these will go towards his next business venture.

Think quarters, but with higher stakes.

“I’m saving up for a laundromat, a big one.”

With hopes of one day owning multiple businesses, a laundromat seems like the logical next step for Ezra.

Chauffeur, financial adviser, and dad Daniel Colson keeps the group grounded, sprinkling in lessons on finance amid the giggles.

“I really wanted them to learn about passive income and investing money, putting your money to work for you,” said Daniel Colson. “So, buy these machines that could help you out. Then, obviously once he plugs in the machines he’s gonna learn to split the profit with the companies because he's using their electricity.”

Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is the expectation that comes with a handshake and the responsibility that follows.