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August 6, 2018 / News / Shopping / Williamsburg / The Greatest Story Ever

Spare no dispense! High-end vending machine at Williamsburg park sells jewelry for big bucks

Jewel of a park: Visitors to Vale Park in Williamsburg can buy a new necklace from this vending machine.
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It’s all that — without a bag of chips!

Visitors to a swanky Williamsburg park outside an even swankier hotel can now buy expensive bling without dealing with stuffy salespeople thanks to a new vending machine that spits out jewelry like it’s Doritos or a can of Coke.

Manhattan-based designer Marla Aaron set up her gizmo at the privately owned but publicly accessible Vale Park next to the luxury William Vale Hotel on Wythe Avenue between N. 12th and N. 13th streets on June 18, and she says patrons are gobbling up her handmade trinkets while they take in the sites.

“I’m really proud of the fact that our vending machine is offering the experience of our work in a very unexpected place in a beautiful environment,” said Aaron. “Our jewelry is great, people really love it.”

But don’t expect to pay with spare change — the adornments run between $165 for a silver link chain and $1,588 for a lock necklace, and can only be purchased with plastic.

Aaron, who said she sells her collection at 40 brick-and-mortar jewelry stores around the world, got the idea for the automated delivery systems while visiting Japan in 2016, where she noticed such machines in their unnatural habitats.

“I fell in love with vending machines and how vending machines existed in unexpected places,” said Aaron.

Before arriving at Vale Park, the unorthodox machine debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in November of 2017, where it blurred the line between obscure art exhibit and gift shop.

“There’s certainly an artistic element to putting handmade items in a vending machine,” said Aaron, who acknowledges in a video on her website that “it’s crazy to put jewelry in a vending machine.”

The response so far has been great, according to Aaron, who said visitors have posted pictures of themselves with their new jewelry on social media.

“Many people have purchased many things,” she said.

To fend off vending machine raiders, the luxe device — which will stay put at the park until October — is equipped with security cameras, and weighs hundreds of pounds, so Aaron said she’s not worried about some sneaks running off with it, or its pricey goodies inside.

“The park is locked at night, generally there’s lots of people in it,” said Aaron. “It weighs a ton — literally.”

And the success of the machine has her thinking it is time to expand on the idea.

“Automated retail is an interesting opportunity and way to sort of present handmade items to the world,” said Aaron. “We are looking at a variety of different locations both domestically and internatio­nally.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 3:34 pm, August 6, 2018
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