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Face mask vending machines are now a thing

As easy as buying candy.

Face mask vending machines are now a thing
[Photo: Keen]

Keen is known for its practical, outdoorsy shoes and gear. Now, it’s using the outdoors to push another practical essential: masks.

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Keen has installed vending machines that serve up branded face masks as easily as you might grab a candy bar to go. Currently in Portland, Oregon; Palo Alto, California; London; and Tokyo, the company plans to roll out additional vending machines in the coming months. A company spokesperson decline to specify where in the U.S. they might pop up next, but says it is “working with different partners.”

[Photo: Keen]
Major retailers from Old Navy to Louis Vuitton have rolled out face masks and shields to meet a new demand for the gear, which is mandated in 34 states to curb the spread of the COVID-19. In fact, masks become such a daily wardrobe staple that people are starting to put their own spin on them.

But while face masks are everywhere, vending machines are one place we haven’t seen them yet. Keen’s approach offers a shopping experience that is entirely new and one that’s particularly apt for shopping in a pandemic. Since the vending machine is outside, it not only eliminates the possibility of indoor transmission (which research shows is higher), it removes person to person contact at the point of sale. There’s also no need to fret if you need a mask after hours: The vending machines are open 24/7. (Keen’s masks are also available to purchase online.)

The Keen Together Masks are available in XS-S and M-L and come in solid colors ($14) or tie dye ($16). A third version features art by the late Jerry Garcia, frontman of the Grateful Dead. (Keen had previously collaborated with Garcia’s estate on a collection of sandals based on his art.) So there’s something for everyone: minimalists, ’90s nostalgia fans, and Deadheads. Of course, jokes aside, what’s most important is that people mask up to help curb the spread of viral particles, no matter the pattern you choose.

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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