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  • 6 Cool Things You Can Get in a Colorado Vending Machine

    Forget the Kit Kat bars—these Centennial State vendors dispense goods like jewelry, bike parts, and even the occasional lift ticket.

    Illustration by Sean Parsons

    A1. Bling and Things

    The Stanley Marketplace, Aurora
    Molly and Craig Hakes, owners of the Velvet Wolf and Little Wolf boutiques, bought a used vending machine this past fall and hired Denver artist collective So-Gnar to paint it bright blue and orange. From its home in the Stanley Marketplace common area, the contraption sells Denver’s Belong Designs socks,
    Colorado-themed jewelry, and Craft Boner magnets.

    A2. Cycle Stuff

    University Bicycles, Boulder
    Rather than catering to early risers by opening at dawn, the shop installed an all-hours vending machine just outside its front door. Patrons can purchase inner tubes, cycling caps, and multi-tools to repair their bikes, as well as $2 energy bars and gels to fuel a long ride up Lefthand Canyon.

    A3. Sculpted Souvenirs

    Museum of Outdoor Arts, Englewood
    After perusing the new-this-month Natura Obscura exhibit, place a $5 token into the museum’s glittering orange vending machine. Local artists make many of the mementos—like origami figures and wires twisted into the shape of a scorpion—and the selection rotates as the stock turns over.

    BI. Ice, Ice Baby

    Jimmer’s Back Country BBQ, Cortez
    To our surprise, Colorado hosts only one ice vending machine. Then again, this is definitely the place for it. Jimmer’s location, just nine miles from arid Mesa Verde National Park, makes it one of the last chances for the park’s 600,000-plus annual visitors to stock up with a 10-pound bag of ice or five gallons of purified water ($1.50 each).

    B2. Mini Masterpieces

    Access Gallery, Denver
    Once a cigarette machine, Colorado’s first Art-o-mat brand dispenser sells pocket-size canvases, sculptures, and jewelry for $5 apiece. Part of the gallery’s job-training program, every work is created by a young person with a disability, meaning your new decor provides income and a business lesson to an emerging artist.

    B3. Free Lunch

    Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver
    Use social currency, not coins, to feed this contraption: The apparatus spits out a box with a prize inside only after users post an Instagram photo that includes a sponsored hashtag in the caption. Most packages contain coupons for concessions, like a free beer or hotdog. But the occasional lucky fan takes home a lift ticket.

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