Little Bitz: Haverhill’s Vending Empire
Haverhill’s Vending Empire
Arthur Du Grenier obtained his first vending machine patent in 1917. It was for an improvement on a knife blade dispenser used by the shoe pattern cutters working in Haverhill’s shoe shops. Du Grenier’s focus quickly moved from keeping cutters in sharp blades to providing Americans on the go with gum and cigarettes. Du Grenier created a Haverhill vending machine empire that helped his industry advance in both pilfer-proofing and coin-reading technology.
Francis Du Grenier took over the business in 1933, after his father died. His machines were efficient and stylish, and reflected the era’s fascination with the streamlining of industrial designs. Like the Airstream trailer, and any of Raymond Loewy’s streamlined designs, Du Grenier’s eye-catching vending machines were at the same time futuristic and reassuringly sturdy.
By 1946, Du Grenier was one of the top four manufacturers of vending machines in the country.