Are kiosks profitable businesses? According to industry reports, kiosk sales increase by 17.9% YOY in 2019 so it’s safe this is an industry entrepreneurs are bullish on. Kiosks are small booths where businesses sell their products which can either be retail goods like apparel, books, t-shirts, sunglasses or food and beverage items. Sometimes carts are converted into stationary kiosks to provide displays for higher-ticket items like package vacation purchases. Other modern kiosks function as service shops for bicycles.
One of the most appealing aspects of owning a kiosk business is the ability to start the business on a bootstrapped budget just about anywhere for less than $20,000. In addition to low startup cost, there are literally hundreds of kiosk business ideas you could operate. In this report, we share our top-rated ideas below to help you make a smart decision. Let’s do this.
- Hot Dog Kiosk
- Juice Bar Kiosk
- Coffee Shop Kiosk
- Popcorn / Kettle Corn Kiosk
- Candy Kiosk Business
- Churro Kiosk Business
- Cell Phone Case Kiosks
- Jewelry Kiosk Business
- Snack Food Kiosk Business
- Gift Baskets
- Travel Agent
- Tour Guide
- Gift Wrapping
- Face Painting
- Massage Parlor
- Candle Kiosk
- Donut Shop Kiosk
- Pretzel Kiosk
- Temporary Tattoos
- Frequently Asked Questions
Hot Dog Kiosk
Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs annually with 15% of it bought from vendors. Vendors can either be food kiosks or hot dog carts that are mobile. In a previous case study, vendor Matt Gladfelter shares how he was able to open his first hot dog stand for under $5,000.
Here are the basic startup expenses you’ll need to consider when opening a hot dog kiosk. For a detailed list, check out the total cost breakdown for a hot dog cart business here.
- Hot dog cart and cooking equipment: $3,000 – $20,000
- Initial inventory (hot dogs, buns, ketchup, onions etc): $300 – $1,000
- Permits and licenses: $100 – $500
- Paper products: $200 – $300
- Rent / lease: Free – $1,500 monthly
As you can see, you’ll be able to open a hot dog kiosk with a whole lot of bells and whistles and still stay under $20,000. Check our our podcast episode below to learn how much you can expect to make in this business.
Juice Bar Kiosk
Juice bars are small businesses that sell freshly squeezed fruit juices or smoothies. The fruit and vegetable juice industry brings is expected to bring in an estimated $257 billion per year globally by 2025. This sort of growth runway is the ideal environment for any startup.
In a previous interview with talked to Andrew McFarlane, a 15 year veteran of the juice industry who’s operated multiple smoothies trucks and juice bars about the pros and cons of the industry. According to McFarlane, juice bars can expect to bring in $250,000 – $800,000 in annual sales. Best of all, this healthy beverage concept works well in a limited space like a kiosk or truck.
Coffee Shop Kiosk
It’s safe to say everyone’s love for coffee is here to stay seeing as there has been a 0.5% increase in coffee consumption this year. Coffee is also easy to sell since it doesn’t need any fancy preparation and has become a beverage consumers drink not only in the morning, but throughout the day as well. A good cup of coffee made from quality beans and pure water is all you need to satisfy customers.
Startup costs for a coffee cart / kiosks are estimated to be around $20,000. This is a business you can get started for a low price tag or high one depending on the type of equipment you plan to purchase. For example, you could easily spend more five figures getting a fancy Espresso machine shipped in from Italy.
We recommend starting small to see if you enjoy running this type of business and investing the profits into the business to support growth. After all, you only need some really basic equipment to start selling your first cups on coffee with a coffee bar, cart or kiosk. Check out our previous interview with Brian Reynolds, whose family owns six coffee shops in the Tacoma area to learn how to get your break into the coffee business.
Popcorn / Kettle Corn Kiosk
Americans really enjoy popcorn. There’s an estimated 232.51 million Americans that consumed popcorn this year and it’s expected to increase to 238.4 million by 2024.
Popcorn businesses are a hit where markets are or where there’s a lot of foot traffic. You can start a popcorn cart or kiosk for $10,000 but you may get a lower price for secondhand kiosks.
One of the best interviews we’ve ever published was with Eric Bickernicks of Velma’s Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn. Popcorn is a simple and high-profit business opportunity for vendors that enjoy working at craft fairs, farmers markets, and fundraisers. Eric profits at least $3.50 per bag of kettle corn sold at an event selling them for $5.00 a piece. Many other vendors charge $6.00 – $7.00 for a bag of popcorn meaning there’s opportunity to increase profits even further.
Burger Stand Kiosk
Did you know that Americans eat around 50 billion burgers a year? You don’t even have to do the math, but we will anyway. The United States burger restaurant industry was valued at over $99 billion in 2020. That’s just a lot of burgers. But that also means there’s a proven market for a high-quality burger kiosk.
You can start a food cart business at $3,000 to $5,000 but expect it to cost a little more if you add in a griddle so you can cook your burgers on the spot. Our very own Malcolm Bedell is extremely bullish on selling gourmet burgers. Malcolm started a weekly Thursday Burger night at his restaurant / food truck Ancho Honey in Tenants Harbor, Maine that’s regularly his most profitable night of the week.
Candy Kiosk Business
Candies aren’t just for kids. 89% of Americans still eat candy in between meals in 2019 so the candy industry isn’t going downhill, in case you were wondering. Candy kiosks are still around.
Starting one can cost around $20,000 to $50,000. The appealing aspect of operating this type of kiosk is that you can have very little waste and prep. If you sell packaged candy, it could take more than a year for the product to expire. This can be an especially lucrative option if you operate in a shopping mall near a movie theater.
Churro Kiosk Business
Anyone that’s visited DisneyLand before understands the profit potential of a good churro. You can’t help but bump into numerous churro kiosks selling everything from original cinnamon sugar to seasonal pumpkin spice flavor. There has been a 3% increase of menus including churros in their dessert lineup in 2019 as compared to 2018.
Churro Station’s franchising fee for one location starts at $25,000, but you can start an independent churro cart for under $10,000.
Mobile Phone Repair
Did you know that the mobile phone repair industry in the United States is a $4 billion business? You may be surprised to discover mobile phone repair shops aren’t owned by massive corporations either. Most of them are owned by single owners and offer their services in kiosks.
If you have the skills to fix gadgets, a steady hand, and really good eyesight, you might want to consider a mobile phone repair business. It’s essentially more modern and cleaner version of operating an auto shop for tech gadgets. The cost for this can start at $2,000 to $5,000 since you have to buy the parts needed to repair phones. To put up a store, it’s around $20,000 but can be less than that if you open a kiosk.
Best of all the operation of this business is simple. After all there are only so many versions of iPhones and SamSung devices. Fixing common issues like broken screens can become extremely routine.
Cell Phone Case Kiosks
Cell phone cases are both known as an accessory and as a protection for your phone. The market for these cases is expected to grow 6.5% from 2020 to 2028 so it’s a good business investment.
You could start by renting a kiosk at the mall which starts off at $800 a month depending on the area. The rest of your budget can be allocated to finding a phone case supplier and order the cases in bulk. This is an opportunity that also lends itself to online sales.
Belts are still in! The fashion belt market industry is expected to rise between 2020 and 2025. So if you have a supplier for belts, try selling them by renting a kiosk at the mall.
One of the most popular places to operate a belt kiosk historically is at shopping malls or airports. You can also solve an important problem for business travelers that forget their belt at home.
Jewelry Kiosk Business
Sell earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other pieces of jewelry at a kiosk. A total sale of $39.7 billion from jewelry stores generated in 2018. Rent a kiosk and sell authentic pieces of jewelry or sell handmade ones. Check out our ultimate list of craft business name ideas if this is an idea you want to pursue.
Snack Food Kiosk Business
Snack food kiosks can be a business venture for you. Popular snack items widely available in shopping malls across the United States include bagels and pretzels. You can add hot dogs and popcorn to the menu as well as cold drinks too.
Gift baskets are quite popular especially for professional organizations, but make an exceptional gift as well. These organizations would order it in bulk to give to their suppliers or partners on special occasions as thanks.
You can put up a gift basket kiosk where customers can check your list of available packages whether these are food, wine, cheese, chocolate, soaps, or dry goods. You can then arrange the number of baskets, the date of delivery, and the payment process.
With this type of setup, your kiosks could be operated seasonally from Thanksgiving until Christmas to minimize lease expenses. Since gift baskets are usually made to order and you’ll only put up a few samples of your baskets as displays. During the off-season, you could focus on nurturing online or telephone sales.
Another classic kiosk business idea to consider is to sell cosmetics. Cosmetics such as lotion, make-up, and skincare are quite in-demand. Skincare leads in sales among all other types of cosmetics, representing 39% of the overall cosmetic industry.
Since we mentioned earlier that renting a kiosk at a mall starts as low as $800 for space, you can then allot the rest of your budget to building an inventory for your cosmetic products.
Soap making is a craft that has grown to be a popular hobby and business over the past few years. The soap industry is also at $18 billion in 2019 and is expected to rise to $24 billion by 2022. With this, you too can make soaps.
Hone your skills and make batches to sell at kiosks in malls. Or alternatively order soaps and body wash in bulk to ensure you don’t spend most of your time as a soap manufacturer.
If you enjoy helping other people plan for their family vacations then a travel agent kiosk could be for you. You don’t need much to open a travel kiosk. Informational brochures, posters, and maps will happily be provided by the marketing departments of cruise lines or theme parks.
The main things you’ll need to invest in is some appealing signage, comfortable chairs, and computers / iPads to show photos and videos to customers. While an increasing number of people are booking flights and vacations themselves online, many people still like to work with a dedicated travel agent when they are traveling internationally or booking a more complex itinerary with multiple family members. Prices for these kiosks depend on the functionality of what you want your booking kiosk to offer.
If you’re well-versed and knowledgeable in your country’s history, geography, and landmarks then why not try and offer your services as a tour guide?
In all honesty, you don’t need a kiosk for this since you can use social media to advertise your services. But a kiosk can help your business out in case tourists will happen to chance upon you near a tourist attraction or at an airport. You can also rent a spot near landmarks and historical places where it’s frequented by tourists. A tour guide’s average hourly rate is $13 according to PayScale.
2019 saw sales of $1.12 billion in plush toys. If you’re thinking of selling stuffed animal toys, you can rent a kiosk and have them all displayed. This opportunity works best around holidays like Christmas and Valentines Day. You can check out where to get your supplies in bulk like at Alibaba and have them shipped to the United States really cut down on your product cost.
Gift wrapping is almost done in such a short amount of time that to have someone do it for you is a blessing. And let’s face it there are plenty of guys out there that can’t wrap a present very well on their own.
Put up a gift wrapping kiosk where you can offer your services just by wrapping up gifts for the holidays. Off-season, you can turn it into a gift shop or a souvenir shop wherein you can still offer to have the items gift wrapped if they wanted.
In 2016, 26% of parents admit to spending more than $500 on their kid’s birthday. Though there aren’t reports of what form of amusement or entertainment they hire, there’s a chance that one of those could be face painting.
Face painters are hired to do character or animal faces for customers. They are priced by the design and number of people’s faces they’ll paint on. Face painters are paid $100 per hour for about 10 to 20 kids. On days that there aren’t any events, you can offer your services by putting up a kiosk at fairs or at the mall where families frequently visit and would be able to spot you.
Massage therapist employment has increased from 2014 to 2018 by 2.7%. It’s projected that it will continue to 2024 at an average growth rate of 1.9%.
If you’re a massage therapist looking to put up your own business, you can offer massages at a kiosk. They won’t be full-body massages but rather you would focus on back, neck, legs, and feet massages. Massage therapists make an hourly wage of $22.68 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Selling candles, particularly scented ones for home décor, is a great business idea. Between 2019 and 2026, the global candle market is expected to rise at 6.3%. Since rent is expensive, a kiosk is more suitable where you can display a wide range of candle scent and color options.
Perfume and Body Spray Kiosk
There is a trend where personal grooming has become even more popular. Because of this, it has led to the perfume market being valued at $31.4 billion in 2018. From 2019 to 2025, it is expected to grow at 3.9%.
Rent a kiosk at the mall where you can sell body fragrances. Offer free samples or free sprays for anyone who wishes to try out a scent. It costs around $8,000 to $10,000 to start a personal perfume line which fits right under your $20K budget.
Donut Shop Kiosk
Did you know that Americans eat 10 billion donuts a year? At the rate that is going, then having a donut kiosk should be a profitable business for you.
For $10,000 to $15,000, you can already put up a donut shop so those rates will lessen when you decide to put up just a kiosk. Read our complete guide to opening a donut shop in 90 days or less.
Did you know that an estimated 181.13 million Americans ate pretzels in 2020? Why not add to these numbers by selling pretzels in a kiosk? You can do a pretzel and lemonade combo to attract customers. Pretzels can be sold in all sorts of creative flavorings as well including cinnamon and sugar, salty, or with a cheese or buttery dip.
In 2018, the cookie market saw $30.62 billion in value and is expected to grow to 5.3% between 2019 to 2025. Join in the cookie craze by setting up a kiosk and offer freshly baked cookies. You can mix the dough at home and then pop them in a small oven at your kiosk. The aroma will attract customers. You would also need the oven and kiosk as primary expenses.
Hat and Accessory Kiosk
Hats continue to be a fashion trend, especially the bucket hat that is making waves among millennials. The hat industry has grown 1.0% annually from 2015 to 2020 in the United States. Putting up a hat business kiosk along with a few accessories is a good idea. Make sure to keep yourself up to date with the latest hat trends so you can adjust the styles you sell each year.
Aside from hats and belts mentioned above, you can also put up a sunglasses kiosk.
Sunglasses sales are projected to increase by 10.1% per year in 2020 to 2025. According reports, the minimum startup cost for a sunglasses business is $1,467 with an average starting cost of $23,493.
Shoe Shine Kiosk
Yes… shoe shine businesses are still around and you can find them in train stations, airports, and hotel lounges. This business is projected to increase by 5.95% from 2019 to 2025 and its startup cost is estimated to be $4,000 – $10,000 depending on the quality of seating you would like to offer guests. This concept could also work well on a mobile cart and be a nice service for wedding parties.
Quick Service Foods
A quick service business is sort of like a fast-food type of service wherein meals are prepared beforehand and are ready to be served within minutes. This can be pizza, burgers, hotdogs, and sub sandwiches. The quick service food industry is expected to grow by another $25 billion in the next five years so it’s a great business venture to get into.
Put up a quick service stand at the mall or at parks. Be sure to choose a good location where there can be lots of foot traffic. Young and old love pizza so you can’t go wrong with this concept.
Second Hand Books
Although there are e-books these days, the second-hand book market still continues to rise. BBC reports that more than half of the United States buys second-hand books rather than brand new. Even old or first editions of books sell for an expensive price. Old looking book sales have also increased as people who are on frequent Zoom calls look for ways to make an appealing looking background.
Temporary tattoos are for those who aren’t ready to get permanently inked for life but would like to experiment. In 2016, Pinterest has seen a 26% increase in interest in temporary tattoos from the number of pins on this subject.
Temporary tattoos are usually seen in kids but you can also provide sophisticated temporary tattoo designs for adults who are interested. Tattoo prices also depend on the size and design so you might have to charge each piece differently.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kiosk Businesses
If you’re still confused by what a kiosk is and what business you can do with a kiosk, here are a few answers to some outstanding questions you might have:
What is a kiosk business?
Kiosks are small businesses that are in an enclosed setup like a stand or a stall. Some of these can be found in shopping malls while they could also be in the streets, airports, stadiums, beaches or anywhere groups of people gather. Kiosks are small operations that one employee can manage.
Related Reading: 27 Profitable Food Truck Breakfast Menu Ideas for 2021
Kiosks can also mean electronic machines like the ones you’ll find at airports. These are check-in kiosks that help passengers check-in their bookings rather than line up at the counter. Some kiosks can also be found in fast food establishments where they can order their food and pay with a credit card.
What can a kiosk business sell?
Anything! Kiosks can sell food products, beverages, or electronics. They can also offer services such as phone repairs or help book trips. But it’s best to check in with your state laws if there are any products you’re not allowed to sell at a kiosk.
Do kiosks really make money?
It’s not the kiosks that make money. It is the type of business you operate. You may start a kiosk but with the wrong business idea and it won’t be profitable and will not be successful. One big advantage of operating a kiosk is the low overhead compared to renting out a traditional retail space that can cost $2,000 – $4,000 in rent. A high-monthly rent can make it difficult to own a business even if you do a lot of sales.
So what are good kiosk business ideas? The ones we mentioned above are just a few. But these will change through time so a good business tactic is to update yourself on what the trends are and what businesses have a steady growth rate. It’s also important to advertise your business whether and deliver a quality product.
Kiosk design is another thing to consider as well. A plain kiosk layout may not be appealing to passersby but a well-designed kiosk that has a striking display will encourage guests to look closer at the product being offered.
Location is another key ingredient to making your kiosk business become successful. Don’t put up a kiosk where there’s less foot traffic and it’s a place people don’t go to frequently. Although this is already an obvious tip, it helps to be reminded of these things.
Promotional Ideas for Kiosks
Knowing your target market will help you promote your kiosk better. For instance, kiosks that are eye-catching with an aesthetically pleasing design and with technology integrated into them catch millennials’ attention. You may also add mobile payments or non-cash transactions since this is on the rise as well.
You can also free samples of your product. This way, customers won’t be afraid of buying something they won’t like. If you’re selling food, place a few pieces of it on a plate and offer them out to passing customers. If it’s dried goods such as perfume, lotion, and the like, you can give them a small spritz or sample for them to try on their skin.
For services, you can offer extra packages to get them to come back. For instance, if you are a shoe shine kiosk, you can give them a 30% discount on their next shoe shine. This way, they’ll come back to your store to avail of the service. You may also give them special freebies if they bring a friend over.
We hope you found these kiosk ideas were helpful. Explore our best list of kiosk manufacturers if you would like a custom design and build.
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