Thanks to the steady increase in the popularity of vaping, the local vape shop has begun to pop up nearly everywhere. Depending on where you live, your home may be within a short driving distance of several vape shops. If you’ve never visited a vape shop before, though, get ready; you’re about to enter a whole new world. The proprietors of most vape shops are a lot like you. They’re former smokers who discovered vaping and became passionate about it. They saw an opportunity to carve out a living in a growing industry, and they ran with it. Other vape shops – well, let’s just say that they probably won’t be members of the vaping industry for very long. Are you ready to venture past the online vape shops and spend a few of your vaping dollars within your local community? Good for you. Your first challenge is to pick the right vape shop. We’re going to give you a head start by describing some of the qualities of vape shops that you should avoid.
(Guest Post by Friske Drag.)
Now Playing: Puppet Show and Spinal Tap
When a local store adds vaping supplies to its existing product lineup, that store does not magically become a vape shop. If a tobacconist begins selling vaping products, that’s a natural match – but we’ve seen “vape shops” that also sell products ranging from phone cards to adult novelties. The more products a store owner sells that aren’t related to vaping, the less that store owner probably knows about vaping. If you’re the type who enters a store already knowing what you want, that may not be a problem for you. If you want guidance and product recommendations, though, a store owner or employee who doesn’t know about vaping will simply recommend the products that other people are buying. Those may not be the right products for you.
Wrong Atmosphere for You
A typical well-stocked vape shop will have hundreds of different products available including devices, tanks, RDAs, coils, batteries, wires, e-liquids and much more. If you feel at home in a vape shop, you’ll want to spend some time browsing the selection – and with all the new vaping products coming out seemingly every day, browsing is half of the fun. If a vape shop doesn’t have a comfortable atmosphere that makes you feel safe and unhurried, you should avoid shopping there. These are some of the signs that a vape shop may not have the right atmosphere for you.
- Pushy, hovering salespeople prevent you from shopping in peace
- Inability to test an e-liquid before buying it – or salespeople don’t know enough about their products to tell you what e-liquids taste like
- Inability to see products because of poor lighting, poor organization or the fact that other customers think the shop is a venue for a 24-hour cloud competition
- Employees or other customers belittle your product selections because you don’t vape the way that they do
Speaking of that final point…
Elitism Has No Place in a Great Vape Shop
When you start visiting local vape shops, you’re probably going to encounter some hipsters. They’ll be sitting in the lounge area blowing obnoxiously large clouds at the customers and merchandise. They’ll make fun of the granny who just wants a few coils for her all-in-one device. If you don’t use a dual-battery squonk mod with dual 0.1-ohm juggernaut coils and hazelnut biscotti e-liquid, they might make fun of you too. In some vape shops, you may even find one or two of those elitists behind the counter.
Do you know what’s great about vaping? It isn’t blowing the biggest clouds, choosing the “right” e-liquid, using the most powerful mechanical mod or building the craziest coils. The thing that’s great about vaping is that it isn’t smoking. Whether the vaping setup that keeps you off cigarettes is a squonk mod, a regulated box mod, a vape pen or a humble cigalike, that’s what’s right for you – and you deserve better than to have an elitist tell you that the way you vape is “wrong.” If a vape shop cultivates elitism among its staff or customers, you should shop elsewhere.
A Salesperson Wants You to Buy a Mechanical Mod
If you’d really like to test the quality of a local vape shop, walk in and pretend that you’re still a smoker. Tell a salesperson that you’re interested in vaping, and ask what device he or she recommends. If the salesperson suggests a mechanical mod, you should run far away. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, mechanical mods are simple e-cigarettes with no safety features. A mechanical mod is little more than a tube with a battery, a button and atomizer threading. A mechanical mod doesn’t know if your battery’s voltage is too low for safe use. It doesn’t know if the output current you’re demanding is too high. It doesn’t know if the battery is damaged. It doesn’t know if your coil has a short. No matter what, a mechanical mod will attempt to fire when you press the button. Every time an e-cigarette explodes during use and causes a gruesome injury, the device in use is a mechanical mod. Mechanical mods should therefore only be in the hands of expert e-cigarette users who understand battery safety.
If a salesperson at a vape shop offers to sell a mechanical mod to a novice, it says two things about that vape shop.
- The shop’s employees either don’t understand – or don’t care about – battery safety.
- Someone is going to get badly hurt, and that vape shop will be responsible.
On the other hand, it’s a good sign when a vape shop carries a stock – even if it’s only a few products – of reasonably priced vape pens and other devices that are appropriate for novices. A vape shop that carries entry-level products probably cares about safety. A willingness to sell appropriate products to newbies also means that the shop is willing to sacrifice a bit of the profit from the initial sale to earn a satisfied long-term customer. Such a vape shop probably deserves your money.
The Customers Look a Bit Too Young
A person who hasn’t reached the legal age for buying tobacco is a child, and no child should vape – period. If the clientele at a local vape shop looks too young, you should buy your vaping products elsewhere. If a vape shop is willing to ignore the law for a quick buck, who knows what other shortcuts they might be taking? You shouldn’t put it past such a vape shop to sell counterfeit batteries or full-price clones. No vape shop should be so desperate for money that it ignores the law.
Doesn't Feel Safe
Nicotine addiction transcends geography, race and financial standing. All kinds of people smoke or have smoked, and that means all kinds of people vape. Depending on where you live, you can find plenty of nice, clean, upscale vape shops in which you’ll feel completely comfortable. In some areas, you can also find vape shops in run-down strip malls with people constantly loitering outside. One of the great things about e-cigarettes is that, in most parts of the world, they’re priced attractively enough that anyone who can afford to smoke can afford to switch to vaping. A vape shop can therefore be a profitable and successful business even if it happens to be in a low-rent area. If you don’t feel safe in a vape shop, though, you should probably go elsewhere. Do you know of a local vape shop with bars covering the neon lights in the windows? If you parked there, would you press the “Lock” button on your keychain a few extra times – just to be sure? Those are probably signs that the vape shop isn’t for you.
About the Author
Rune Stulen is the owner of Friske Drag. Stulen is a long-term e-cigarette user whose passion for the vaping hobby drove him to build a company that supplies his fellow Norwegians with affordable and high-quality e-cigarettes. Stulen continues to work tirelessly to advance the vaping industry in Norway.