RIP Semi-Automatic — Hudson Hotel Quietly Retires Its Vending Machine

Seems it was only yesterday we were reporting the arrival of the Semi-Automatic, the Hudson hotel’s cool vending machine. You may recall it as the one stocked with gold-plated handcuffs, Haute Hippie sequin miniskirts and Ouiji boards instead of Doritos and M & Ms.

But today when we visited the Hudson to check out Hudson Common, the newish beer and burger court, we got a shock. Strolling over to the Semi-Automatic to see if it was still selling Equinox Derringer bikes (for $2,300) or, more realistically, toothbrushes, we discovered it was gone. Had it been moved?

Try removed. Its demise occurred about a month ago, a desk attendant said. Turns out the machine wasn’t as efficient as a human when it came to successfully dispatching objects and collecting money. “It seemed with very other purchase there was a problem,” the attendant said.

we’re sorry to see the Semi-Automatic go. It was entertaining. You swiped your credit card, pushed a button, and watched the machine’s big silver arm grab the specially designed black and white bag holding the goodie of your choice and send it down a chute. To road test the machine, we purchased the $18 Holly GoLightly sleep mask and were mightily entertained.

Still, when we tried to purchase a second item – a hardcover copy of Great Expectations – nothing happened. Repeatedly.

The objects for sale lost some luster as well. While early offerings augmented hotel shop staples like toothpaste, shaving cream and dental floss with a witty blend of pipe dreams (a brand-new Bentley, a $1 million apartment) and fun stuff (a paperback copy of The Catcher in the Rye), a plethora of action figures dominated on recent visits. Ho hum.

So RIP, Semi-Automatic, a good-looking, smart-sounding idea whose time came – and went.


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