Pricilla Shillingford, as a mom and nurse, knows how to be prepared with supplies — specifically baby supplies.
And as a mom and a nurse, Shillingford knows there are times when those supplies are forgotten or, unexpectedly, run out.
“My husband and I were always like,” the 31-year-old Land O’ Lakes woman said, “we wish there was a vending machine where you just just grab some wipes or diapers or whatever you may need, where you didn’t have to go into a big store to get it.”
“When my 4-year-old was an infant,” she continued, “we were always forgetting something or it wasn’t in the car when we were out. So, we thought: “What if those were in a vending machine? I knew plenty of parents like that, where we could spend more time at the event or venue instead of having to leave or stop at Walmart or CVS.”
Schillingford started Go Baby Vending — which is just an ordinary vending machine, however, it is stocked full of baby supplies, such as formula, diapers, wipes, and even snacks and toys. All are necessities an on-the-go parent might need in a pinch.
Schillingford brought in the machines in 2019, originally setting up two locations: at the Tampa Premium Outlets and another in Orlando.
Now, her two locations are at the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa, and another located The Shops at Wiregrass, inside the restrooms’ alcove between JCPenney and Macy’s.
“These are the first in Florida I’ve seen,” Schillingford said. “It’s so helpful to moms, dads, parents, grandparents — and I like to keep the prices reasonable. I’m a parent — I get it. I’m not going to overpay for something that isn’t that expensive in a store.”
Prices for items start as low as $1, but Schillingford isn’t a total capitalist. She donates 5% of the proceeds to various charities, usually ones geared toward helping children, such as St. Jude’s or All Children’s hospitals.
Choosing locations for the machines involves a bit of strategy, Schillingford said. The vending machine needs to be in venues that will, usually, have plenty of children and families out and about.
Places such as zoos, museums and parks are typically good spots, as she’s also working on securing locations at Bounce House in Tampa and Florida Children’s Museum in Lakeland.
“I also talked to the managers of these places and see what items they think they’d like to see in the machines,” she said.
She gets her inventory from big box stores and local businesses and also occasionally adds new selections. For instance, she just added portable chargers for tablets.
“Those seem to always run out of power as the kids watch them,” she explained.
The VA nurse said her husband, Shomari, and their kids, Jayden, Jovani and Selena, help to maintain and stock the machines.
So far, she’s relied on word of mouth and social media to get the word out about the vending machines.
“When parents find out about it, they think it’s a great thing to have available,” she added. “Parents will spread the word and then at least they have this option if they ever need anything or something else they forgot — as parents, we’ve all been there!”
Go Baby Vending Machines
Where: The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel; and, Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa
Details: Two locations (with possibly more to come) of vending machines that dispense much-needed baby supplies, such as formula, diapers, wipes, and even snacks and toys, for parents on the go or in a pinch.
Published August 30, 2023