Art, custom hangover cures, tarot cards, vibrators and scavenger hunts—all of that and more waits inside Lucid Vending machines.
In just 9 months of existence in St. Petersburg, the creators of Lucid Vending have made their salvaged, refurbished machines popular attractions across town.
What started as one machine inside “Studios at 5663” art space in Pinellas Park has expanded to seven machines currently operating in bars, cafes and art spaces, with an eighth soon to come at The Factory St. Pete. The goal of Lucid Vending machines founders is to promote art, adventure and exploration in the Sunshine City.
“When the pandemic hit, it really got us into gear,” Chance Ryan, who co-founded Lucid Vending with his partner Kayla Cox, tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
They were living in St. Augustine at the beginning of 2020 and wanted to move to a city that would be better suited for their artistic pursuits. They found that in St. Pete, where their machines have been welcomed with open arms by artists and small business owners.
In the spaces they inhabit, Lucid’s machines stand out. Wild designs by local artists and eccentric decorations catch visitors’ eyes, thus the name “Lucid”.
Cox is an artist herself, which helped spark the idea to create the project. “I make a lot of art, a lot of random things, and having to sit in a market or try to sell it online is just never really been anything I've been interested in,” she says.
That’s when the pair realized vending machines could be a possibility for artists like Cox, who makes earrings and jewelry that can be found inside the machines.
They’ve received enthusiastic feedback from the artists who consign with them, and Lucid also helps promote the artists through Instagram, along with the customers and businesses where their machines are placed. The businesses also get a percentage of the sales from the card-only machines for making room for the machine in their building.
The couple often receives salvaged machines that were on their way to the junkyard, and has to put in hard work to get them to look like the fancy final product people see in public. What started as dusty old forgotten machines have a new glow, and light up people’s days.
With the pandemic still raging when 2021 arrived, Ryan thought of an idea to bring people outside, and see new sites across St. Pete. He enjoys exploring the city, and finding interesting things to see and do. He thought he’d see if other people want to try that with scavenger hunts.
There's a piece of the Berlin Wall in St. Pete and a Centennial Sundial, as well as murals across town he says. But, Ryan says, “I don't want to give too much of it away.”
Their hope is that players will find something that they didn't know that was in town, and they challenge people to add to the scavenger hunt as they play. Along the way, players can take pictures and send them to Lucid’s Instagram or email them, and when they’ve acquired enough points, Cox and Ryan will meet up with them to deliver a prize.
As their operation has become successful enough to sustain them financially, the duo are looking to expand Lucid’s operations across the bay to Tampa. They just need more creative artists and businesses to team up with.
“Doing this full time is a good problem to have, we love it,” says Ryan. “And we love the community that has supported us to get to this point.
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