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Before his father passed away in 2004, Nicos Nicolaou had the opportunity to promise him one thing – that his dream would never die. His father was an immigrant, a Cypriot Greek American, who settled in Flint, Michigan, in order to have a better life for his family. He opened PaPa Wholesale, which distributed produce, and owned a couple of pieces of coin operated equipment that consisted of jukeboxes, cigarette machines, video games, and pool tables. Nicos learned how to service and repair the machines at a young age, which would ultimately lead him to start his own successful business, continuing the American dream his father started.
When Nicos’ father had a heart attack and passed away in July of 2004, PaPa Wholesale was already having financial trouble from the loss of manufacturing jobs in Michigan during the late 1990s. Nicos was able to gain different employment for a time, but ultimately would move to Northwest Arkansas with his wife to start a new career.
While house hunting in Arkansas, Nicos got lost and ran out of gas in the town of Crosses. With no cell phone reception, he climbed in the back seat of his vehicle and went to sleep, waiting for someone to help. He was woken by a police officer holding a gas tank up to his window. The officer instructed Nicos that there was a store up the road where he could use the phone. When Nicos arrived, the store was closed. While waiting for it to open, he noticed a drink vending machine outside that was out of service. When the store owner arrived, Nicos inquired about the out of service vending machine. The owner told him that she paid numerous people to fix the machine, but no one was able to get it working. Nicos purchased the machine and the right to the location without commission for six months for $300. It took Nicos a while to repair the machine, but when he got it up and running, he placed it outside the store. Thanks to a combination of campers, visiting fisherman, cyclists, and more, that $300 investment turned into income averaging $2,200 a month. Nicos was hooked on the vending business and quickly went in search of his next location.
Throughout the years Nicos learned a lot about how to run a vending business. He bought new vending machines and found ways to refurbish older ones. He used local Sam’s Club stores as his warehouse and his truck as a delivery vehicle. He was a one-man show, working day and night. His box truck was his office, warehouse, bedroom, and delivery truck.
As his operation grew, Nicos never lost his hard work ethic or dedication to bringing value to his vending customers. His business remains locally owned with family values driving every decision. It is also the continuation of a father’s dream for his family.