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

Hot dog on a bun from a stand.

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

Fresh watermelon juice.

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

coffee trailer

A coffee cart / 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

A hefty portion of popcorn

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

burger photo

Hey ma! Look what I made.

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

A variety of candy at a kiosk.

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

Churros dipped in chocolate.

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.

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