But all the gloom-and-doom predictions that newspapers will one day
disappear isn’t scaring workers at the Kaspar Sho-Rack Company, based
in Shiner, Texas. The company lays claim to being the world’s largest
manufacturer of coin-operated and no-charge newspaper vending machines.
Don Kaspar is president and a fourth-generation member of a family business that began in 1898 manufacturing wire products.
“There’ll be printed newspapers for years and years” said Kaspar,
president of a company that is actually part of the larger Kaspar
Wireworks. Still, he concedes, “Business is down about 25 to 30 percent
from about five years ago.”
It wasn’t until the late 1950s that
the privately owned company was approached by the now defunct San
Antonio Light newspaper to develop an early version of coin-operated
The early versions of newspaper machines were simple and made mostly of wire, but by the mid-1960s they were all made of metal.
The machines typically consist of a thick metal housing, shelves, doors
and hinges. But the heart of any machine is the coin mechanism, which
can have 150 moving parts, according to the manufacturer. Some advanced
models introduced in 1999 feature lithium batteries to run the
Often weighing around 100 pounds,
these hand-assembled machines cost on average $450 each, with
refurbished models selling for around $300, the company says.
The zenith of the company’s business may have been the 1980s, when the
introduction of USA Today landed it a contract to build and deliver
100,000 coin-operated machines. Today only 65,000 machines populate the
nation’s sidewalks, according to a USA Today spokesperson.
65,000 is still a lot. I like that you can basically hear the reporter asking these guys to go along with the OH GOD OH GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE IPHONES CRAIGSLIST FUCK THE KIDS THEY DON’T READ storyline and the guys saying, “erm, calm down, son.”