WILLISTON (AP) - Room-sized vending machines that use robotic arms to dispense an array of items from soft drinks to detergent are becoming popular in western North Dakota's oil patch.
The Forum reports that the so-called Shop24 machines are located at a recreational vehicle park near Williston and at a crew camp near Watford City.
LaVenture Logistics owns and operates the two stores. Company president Rob Lindberg said the machines aim to bring convenience store items to temporary-housing residents in the oil patch.
"If you're out of Tide, you don't want to drive all the way to Walmart just to do your clothes," Lindberg said. "If you forgot an item, we're kind of the local help."
The response to the two shops has been strong, Lindberg said. Soda, iced tea and other beverages are the best-selling items, but other things, such as used DVDs, also have been popular, he said.
The machines accept cash or credit cards and can sell anything that weighs between 1 ounce and 10 pounds.
Lindberg said some prices are higher than a typical convenience store - a 20-ounce soda costs $2.14. But a foot-long sandwich sells for $5.24, likely one of the cheapest options in the area, he said.
Harold Cushman, who lives at the RV park and does maintenance, said he is responsible for selling the shop out of sweet tea. But he's not the only customer.
"This thing's pretty busy, actually," Cushman said.
Lindberg said the company is considering other locations in North Dakota.