What does every hungry, overworked and stressed Ole need while studying in the library? Cookies. Fortunately, St. Olaf students are in luck. Rolvaag library now proudly contains the very first T-Rex Cookie vending machine.
Tina Rexing ’95 is a St. Olaf alumna and the owner of T-Rex Cookie & Coffee Café. Rexing decided she was tired of working in corporate America, so she chose to do what she loves – bake cookies. Rexing doesn’t shy away from sharing her life story or offering advice to students.
“Follow your passion. Really figure out what you want to do with your life and for the rest of your career,” Rexing said.
T-Rex Cookie & Coffee Café is located in Minneapolis. Rexing decided to experiment and create the first T-Rex Cookie vending machine because she will be displaced for the next two years while condo units are built over the site of her cafe. The vending machine represents Rexing’s commitment to her business and the fact that she needs to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances. Rexing noticed there were already vending machines for cupcakes and salads, so why not create a vending machine for her face-sized cookies?
The T-Rex Cookie vending machine is custom-made, has a refrigeration system and was tested briefly in California. The introduction of the vending machine did not occur without challenges. When the machine was being installed, water poured over the unit that powers the machine. Rexing learned some practical electrician skills in order to replace the unit.
The vending machine cost $13,000. For the foreseeable future, the vending machine is card only. The machine utilizes encryption technology to make sure credit card information remains safe. Some Oles may balk at the $4 price tag for one of these delicious, premium cookies. However, they should know this vending machine represents was incredibly expensive for Rexing. The vending machine is Rexing’s beta-test to determine if she will branch out to other locations.
By the time the relevant costs are accounted for, Rexing isn’t making much money, she said. After adding the cost of materials for the cookies, maintenance costs for the machine and transaction fees, it’s no surprise cookies are sold for $4. This is cheaper than the $10 price for the same cookies at US Bank Stadium.
Rexing is exploring the possibilities of creating buzz through social media and using loyalty programs such as sending promotional codes to St. Olaf students who buy multiple cookies from the machine over time.
Rexing admits she might have to adjust the recipe for her cookies. Some research and development may be necessary in order to change the chemical ingredients in the cookies so they are better suited for distribution via vending machine.