Entrepreneur couple launch fresh milk vending machine shop

Emma and Mark Herrod

Emma and Mark Herrod outside their newest Vending Shed venue at Axminster’s Mole Avon - Credit: Emma Herrod

A young entrepreneurial couple from Colyton are bucking the business trend by launching two new shops with a difference, despite the difficulties the pandemic has brought to the economy.
Emma and Mark Herrod, both from farming families, have recently opened local fresh milk vending machine shops in Seaton and Axminster.
Using milk from Sutton Lucy Dairy in East Devon, the self-serve machines sell milk and milkshakes ‘on tap’, as well as ice cream from Dartmoor Ice Cream Company.
Seaton’s Fore Street was the location for the first Vending Shed shop which opened earlier this year, and a few weeks ago, a second premises was launched at Mole Avon’s stores at Station Yard, Axminster.
Emma says: “We are the first in the country to open a vending machine shop in a town, I believe, and the ice cream machine is one of the first of it’s kind in the UK too.”
Helping the environment is close to the couple’s heart and an important part of their business, so they have introduced reusable glass bottles — 500ml and 1-litre — which can be purchased and used over again.
“We are reducing the use of plastic,” explains Emma. “If a family of four were to buy all of their milk from us, they would save, on average, four plastic bottles a week — that's 208 bottles a year just from one family!
“Our local fresh milk from Sutton Lucy Dairy, a family-run farm, has very low food miles and is delivered fresh straight from the farm. 
“The farm thrives on high welfare standards, they breed Holsteins and Jerseys which gives the milk a lovely creamy flavour.”
As well as helping to reduce plastic, The Vending Shed is championing the farming industry and local businesses at the same time. 
“Anyone buying their milk form us will be supporting us as a young family as well as other rural businesses as our Seaton shop also offers a mini farm shop, stocking a range of local products including free range eggs, homemade jam, coastal cheese, farmhouse butter and fudge.
“In our Seaton branch we have one of the UK's first Ice cream vending machines with seven flavours from the Dartmoor Ice Cream Company. They are a small business that uses milk from a local farm, source their ingredients locally and hand make the ice cream. It has a very creamy taste and we have fantastic reviews on it.”
Emma and Mark had some ‘local’ help at the beginning of their venture with advice from a former employer of Emma’s.
“We were very lucky at the beginning of our vending story,” says Emma. “I phoned a former boss of mine, Karl Willis, from JKS Floorings Ltd in Seaton, and asked him for his thoughts on my idea of starting up a vending shop. 
“From that day, he took us under his wing and coached us through starting a new business. He liked the idea of what we wanted to achieve but I don’t think he quite realised just how popular it was going to be! 
“We have all been amazed at the popularity of the shop and shed and the locals have been so supportive. We feel like it has brought a lot of life to Seaton, people have been thanking us for setting up something that ‘tastes great and is open all the time’.”
With six milkshake flavours available at any one time and a coffee machine at the Seaton venue, the Vending Shed is seeing customers travelling miles to purchase fresh milk and shakes.
Emma adds: "A family of four could come and get four 500ml refill milkshakes for less than £4 — it hasn’t cost the earth and it’s a healthy treat.
“Children can also learn where their milk has come from as there are lots of photos of the cows at Sutton Lucy Dairy at the venues and we are also dog-friendly in both locations.”
With social media playing a huge part in helping to market businesses, The Vending Shed has been filmed and published by TikTokker Ricky Male — @rickster2344 — with one video going viral with over 38,000 views — https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRjbPWcm/
The Vending Shed is open at Seaton everyday 7am-9pm and at Axminster it is open 24 hours a day.

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