Vending kiosks could mean a world without stores

We kick them. We curse them. We give them money.

The vending machine embodies America in so many ways. It is impersonal, fast, overpriced and unhealthy. That is why it is our future.

The innovative minds at The Kroger Company recently unveiled a 164-item vending machine. Offering anything from ground beef to toilet paper, the bus-stop-size kiosk is the first of its kind.

The robotic store is located on the bustling campus of Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

According to Kroger spokesman Jackie Siekmann, the test run is garnering a lot of positive feedback.

And why wouldn’t it? Self-checkout lanes at grocery stores are so half-assed. Kroger is blowing past the competition by eliminating the whole stinkin’ store. Cashiers, baggers, store managers, cleaning services, rent for the store? So passé.

Implications for the already dwindling job market aside, think of the possibilities the vending machine offers for other businesses.

Think of a world with no stores, just massive, employee-less malls ready to solve all your commercial needs.

Imagine: Kiosk Center.

Hate those hawkish shoe salespeople every time you walk into Foot Locker or Finish Line? Well loathe no more! Just run on over to your local shoe kiosk. Peruse through the vending selections and make your purchase on the spot. But don’t be surprised when the machine still asks you three different times if you would like to buy any discount socks, shoelaces or shoe scrub before your purchase is final.

Now that you’re walking in style, head on down to your local Home Depot machine. Larger than most kiosks, this machine can slice the 2-by-4 you ordered right on location. Stand back and watch the wood chips fly (wood chips sold separately). Press H7 for a bottle of caulk and H9 for the caulk gun. Levels A and B offer every nut, screw, bolt and nail known to man, and you can buy however many you’d like of each.

Home improvement necessities in hand, stop by the local rent-a-cart kiosk. A favorite among Kiosk Revolution supporters, the rent-a-cart is a new market, spurred solely by the elimination of all stores. Check out a cart and keep the dispensed time ticket. Load the cart up with your items and take it home for the night. Next time you run by the Kiosk Center, just drop the cart off and pay for your time used.

Feeling ritzy? Take the Walgreen’s Elevating kiosk up to the second level. There you will find the Jared the Galleria of Jewelry kiosk. Featuring two layers of bullet-proof glass and more locks than available at the Master kiosk, Jared’s machine features model male and female hands that fashion every ring in stock.

Precious diamond needs met, stroll over to the Apple kiosk. iPhones, iPads and iPods in every color. Use your iTunes account to add songs to your gadget. While waiting for your song to load, order a Starbucks Frappuccino. That’s right, in an unprecedented move, Apple and Starbucks have teamed up to create the first ever multiosk. Rumors of Nike/McDonald’s multiosks abound.

With so much valuable merchandise in tow, make your final stop at the Security Guard kiosks. Rent a guard to escort you home.

Personalize your choice on the weapon menu. Would you prefer a man armed with mace or an assault rifle? A Taser or a night stick? Remember, the choice is always yours at Kiosk Center.

As you walk back, do your best not to look at the billboard kiosk.

“Unemployment at all-time high”

“Interpersonal skills at all-time low”

“Loneliness: America’s reclusive epidemic”

But if you do catch a glance, be sure to stop by the Barnes & Noble kiosk. Pick up that new best-seller “Capitalism Gone Too Far: A Frightening Stop at the Mirror Kiosk.”

Ask your body guard what he thinks.

_Phil is a senior in Media._