An Inside Report On TasteFest – A Spinfuel Choice Award Event
Check out a gallery of photos taken at the event at the end of this interview –
On the night of June 13th, a Friday the 13th I might add, Vaporescent, a new vape shop in Indianapolis Indiana held it’s first, but certainly not last, TasteFest. The owners of the ship, led by Fred Eriksson, wanted to give back to the vape community he had recently began serving, and what better way to do that than to put on a night of festivities based around several eLiquid brands, and Spinfuel eMagazine. It turned out to be one heck of an event, and one that will definitely be repeated.
That night was exactly one week ago today. We finally caught up with Fred to get his take on the event, and he not only shared his first hand account with us, but also several photos of the event.
I did a short interview with Fred and learned a lot about him. As you’ll soon read, Fred knows a thing or two about hosting events like this, and by the looks of it, the vape community in Indianapolis ate it up. Well, I’ll let Fred tell you…
Julia: You have a really lovely store, from what I can see from the photos anyway, when did you first open for business?
Fred Eriksson: Thank you. It was my business partner Jonatan Palm, who is an Art Director at Koenisegg, a Swedish sports car company that designed the layout of the store. I just implemented his drawings. We opened in early April of this year.
Julia: Your decision to offer eLiquids that have earned the Spinfuel Choice Award, tell us about that. Why do it? How has your customers responded to it?
Fred Eriksson: For me it was about having someone to perform due diligence on the eLiquids that I was going to offer to my clients. With so many eLiquids of “questionable” quality out there and without us being able to check the quality of all of them, why not use a professional to do it for us?
I have read Spinfuel for a couple of years now, and was familiar with your process, and it therefore made sense to have you do the research for us.
Julia: That’s great Fred, we are happy we could help with that.
Fred: When I walk in to most vape stores they often offer literally hundreds of flavors. To me that’s too overwhelming. My goal is to have a very concentrated menu, but of very high quality eLiquids.
We currently carry just six brands in total, and about 50 flavors in all. Three of my brands have won Spinfuel Choice Awards; Virgin Vapor, Bird’s Nest Elixir, and Johnson Creek. Based on the vote of TasteFest I will add a 4th Choice Award winning brand with the addition of Strix Elixirs, We will begin carrying them on July 1st.
In addition to the Choice Award Brands, We carry three lesser-known brands that I have vaped for the past 2.5 years that I am familiar with, and that are of ‘okay quality’ but far from Choice Award status.
We are also excited to announce that we are adding our own brand starting July 1st. The Vaporescent brand comes in five flavors, and was developed by Robin O’Connor, owner and mixologist of Bird’s Nest Elixir.
Julia: Oh wow, that is awesome! Robin is amazing, isn’t she? Gorgeous too (wink). Her eLiquids are great; you picked a great partner to work with!
Fred: Our clients really love the eLiquids that we offer, and appreciate the fact that there are checks and balances in place when it comes to the products they vape. So, it’s important to us that the eLiquids we carry be of the best possible quality.
Julia: Tell our readers how you conceived of the idea to do a TasteFest, and to make it a Spinfuel Choice Award Event?
Fred Eriksson: In the shower. All of my best ideas happen in the shower.
Julia: In the shower??
Fred: No seriously. My family and I recently moved from San Francisco to Indianapolis. In San Francisco I worked as a stockbroker for a major Wall Street firm, and being close to Napa Valley we often did “wine tasting client appreciation events” for our clients. We would set up tasting stations for each winery so that the guests could move from table to table tasting the different wines. The idea that we could do this with eLiquid using the 2014 winners of the Spinfuel Choice Awards just popped into my head one day, and off we went.
Julia: You sure did. So, where did you go from there? How long did it take to flesh out the idea, to make it all real? Was it easier or harder than you expected?
Fred Eriksson: I contacted Dave Foster at Spinfuel to see if the magazine was interested in sponsoring the event. My thought was that you guys might want to send some T-shirts or something.
Instead I got this amazing response and support from Spinfuel that I could never had hoped to dream of. Your involvement made everything much easier as the eliquid companies responded to my requests right away, and with great enthusiasm!
Jonatan and I made an outline of my vision of the event and then hired an event planner to execute the actual plan. Once all eliquid companies had committed, it became very easy to plan, and it did not take too much effort.
Julia: Wow, I guess with all that experience in San Francisco and the wine tasting events, this was all maybe ‘second nature’ to you.
Fred: My plan was to make sure to promote every brand including Spinfuel as much as I could in social media as a thank you for participating in our event. I am a firm believer in win – win situations, and in this case I think it played out well. There was a lot of cross promotion going on leading up to the event among all the parties, which was a phenomenon that you rarely see now a days.
Julia: That’s true, but the vape community is different, as you found out. We liked helping each other, its not only good for the one’s we help, its good for the community at large. But anyway, how many eLiquid brands got involved, and how did they participate in the event?
Fred Eriksson: We had six brands participating in the event, Bird’s Nest Elixirs, Virgin Vapor, Strix Elixirs, Lick Brand Vapors, Arkansas eLiquid Co and Hurricane Vapor. All of them sent samples of their award winning flavors. Some sent a bunch of other e-liquids flavors; others sent T-shirts, marketing material, and other promotional items. We felt that all of them contributed to the best of their ability and were very committed to the event.
For example Virgin Vapor used their membership list to send out an invitation to 400 members within a 50-mile radius of Indianapolis. Another brand, Hurricane Vapor, send over 70 bottles, which we used as a prize in the raffle for free eLiquid for a year.
Julia: Annette and Debbie are great people, so generous and kind. And Christian, from Hurricane Vapor, he’s a great guy too, or so I hear from John. I’m so glad they were able to help like that. From the looks of the photos it seems that the TasteFest went over very well. (Ticket site here) Were you nervous that people weren’t going to show up, or that maybe too many people might show up?
Fred Eriksson: Yes very. We had no clue how it was going to turn out. When we found out about Virgin Vapor’s email to its membership list, we got nervous. Also, having had a banner ad on the Spinfuel for several weeks, ads in the local papers, and several other marketing campaigns we were completely in the dark as to what was going to happen.
As it turned out we had 93 people that filled out raffle tickets which I felt was a perfect amount. Had there been more, there is a risk it would have been too crazy and my neighbors would have complained to the property owner.
Julia: That’s fantastic! Tell us about the night of the event. How did it begin, how did the customers react? Did everyone have fun?
Fredrik Eriksson: People started to trickle in around 4pm and we had set up a table by the entrance with program handouts outlining the event and how it was set up.
Since the store is fairly small it filled up quickly as people moved from tasting station to tasting station. The atmosphere was great, as people were served warm appetizers and alcohol free cocktails. I was standing at the cash register most of the evening, handing out T-shirts, and ringing up sales. As far as I could tell people had a great time as they mingled and tasted the different flavors.
Julia: You had some kind of a poll or survey, right; to determine what Spinfuel Choice Award brand you would bring in to your store next?
Fredrik Eriksson: The idea was that I wanted to add one more Spinfuel Choice Award winner, and why not let democracy have a say in the process? We simply created a table in the program handout that I mentioned earlier with all the flavors and boxes were the participants were allowed to check their top three flavors. We then tallied up which brand got the most votes. We will now add the six flavors from Strix Elixirs, all of which have won a Spinfuel Choice award. We start offering them on July 1st.
Julia: I understand you had a lot of giveaways that evening. What were the prizes, and how did the giveaways work? Who won what?
Fredrik Eriksson: We certainly had a lot of giveaways, especially thanks to Spinfuel, but also to all the brands that participated. We had free T-shirts to the first 40 guests from Spinfuel and Arkansas eLiquid Co., and in the raffle we offered prizes to 10 winners. First prize went to Austin Roberts, who won free eLiquid for a year sponsored by Hurricane Vapor, an iTaste 134 mini, sponsored by Spinfuel Magazine, sample packs of eLiquid from Bird’s Nest Elixirs, Arkansas eLiquid Co, and Strix Elixirs. Other prizes included tanks, eLiquids, t-shirts, and mods; all donated by Spinfuel and the eLiquid participants.
Julia: How did you get the word out about the event locally?
Fred: We advertised locally and also used a digital media company, Stratusi, which did all the marketing for us.
Julia: Was all the planning, all the work needed to pull off an event like this, was it worth it? Did you accomplish your goals?
Fred Eriksson: I believe it was worth it if we can carry the momentum of this event going forward into other marketing campaigns. For us it’s all about name recognition and branding at this point. However, seen from a completely different angle, the event was also a way for us to say thank you to our existing client base. We have gotten a great response already from clients this week thanking us for hosting the event. We are a new company and we want to make sure that our clients know we care about them. This is not our last TasteFest. Our goal is to have at least two of these per year, if not more.
Julia: That’s great! By the way, I can’t help but ask, were any of your customers already aware of Spinfuel eMagazine? Were they aware of the various brands that participated in the event?
Fred Eriksson: I have used Spinfuel in my sales pitch, how we construct our eLiquid menu ever since we started in April. As a result, many of them knew about Spinfuel even though they might not have read about it on the web. However, this week I have had several clients coming in telling me they have read about the Choice Awards online. As far as the brands that we had at the event, very few had heard of them as far as I knew. A few people told me that they had tried Hurricane Vapor before, but that’s it.
It’s interesting how diverse of a group of people we are as vapers. We come from all walks of life. The night of TasteFest started out very elegant (mind you no alcohol was served) with beginner/intermediate vapers dressed up for a nice event. As the evening progressed more and more advanced cloud chasers showed up. This is was a different crowd. Not as dressed up, more casual but with very expensive equipment. By the end of the night they had taken over the store, building coils and the store was so thick with vapor you could barely see the door from the counter. It was a great atmosphere, just a different than the way the evening started and the way I had envisioned it. – END
I really wish I had flown out to Indianapolis for the TasteFest, it sounded like a lot of fun, and the photos tell a good story. If any of our readers were there last Friday night, please post a comment about your experience. We would love to know what you thought about it.