November 10, 2017
Starting your own vape shop requires bold decision making, an excellent location, and a lot of perseverance. It’s necessary to pick the right name, be up on all of the regulations, and have a solid business model in place. You’ll be learning new things from the moment that you open your doors, but if you want to keep from going under it is necessary to learn about these business basics.
The key to a successful vape business, like other businesses, rests in what you do before you open your doors. The vaping business offers some additional challenges based on the type of business that it is. The regulations for the majority of other products aren’t constantly in flux.
Know the Vape Shop Regulations
Before you open your business, it’s necessary to know what you’re up against. As the debate about vaping and its safety rages on, you need to know where your state, county, and city currently stand. Get the inside track on e-cig regulations. As a vaper, you’re going to be facing an entirely new level of challenge with the regulations.
Find out how your city classifies vape shops. You may have to pay extra fees because some cities consider vape shops to be nuisance businesses. Be sure you budget in those fees when you make your calculations. If you need to carry insurance, CALCO has insurance specifically geared to the vaping industry, or you can go with the same coverage that states require for tobacco shops.
Know your Audience
Every vape store is different, depending on the audience it caters to. Do you want to be the store where beginners go to get their first vaping experience? Do you want more experienced vapers to come to you for the latest and greatest e-cig mixtures? Do you want to be the general store that vapers of all types can come to you for your expert advice? Your audience shapes everything about your business, from the marketing campaign to the location to the product that you keep on hand.
What’s in a Name?
After you decide what type of business that you have and have also determined your perfect audience, it’s time to choose a name. The name that you choose will set the mood for your business. And, while you can name your business anything that you want, here are some guidelines to help you discover the best name for your business.
- Simplicity – Simple names are generally more memorable than gigantic ones. The easiest piece of advice that we can offer here is that it’s necessary to think of the person who’s going to be saying the name of your shop over and over on the phone. If it’s too long, it can get muddled. Imagine having to say Sample R. Vapers Smoke Shoppe and Emporium over and over! It just isn’t going to happen.
- Timelessness – Vape2017 is great for 2017, but it will inevitably not be timely for the years after that. By picking something that’s not related to the time of year or to something other than vaping that is trending, you’re establishing your name for the future.
- Descriptive – You want to convey to everyone what your shop does as simply and easily as possible. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to name your shop ‘Vape Shop’ or ‘Vape Business’ and be done with it. It’s going to require a touch of creativity.
- Unique – If you are setting up a local vape shop, you want to make sure that your name hasn’t been taken by a local business. You also want to make sure that the domain name for your business hasn’t been taken. Great brick and mortar businesses use a combination of online and brick and mortar tactics to get customers through the door.
- Not a Joke – While stores with inherent jokes in the name are funny the first time, they aren’t funny the five hundredth. You can make all the jokes that you want after the fact, but it’s always best to keep them out of the naming.
Get your Money in Order
When first opening a vape shop, you’re going to be hit with a lot of expenses. Your leasing agent will most likely require you to place a deposit on the space. You’ll need to setup utilities. You’ll need to put in fixtures, then stock your store with inventory.
Rent and Utilities
You will need about $25,000 minimum to open up a vape shop, and that’s for a small 500 sq ft space. It’s recommended that you have at least $50,000 for the rent, deposit, and inventory. The more capital you start out with, the more of a chance you have for success. Places with higher foot traffic, like strip malls, are usually perfect for setting up vape shops.
Consider that you’ll also be responsible for getting the other basics of a retail shop which include a point-of-sale system, utilities, security, and the like. These may seem like little charges, but they definitely add up over time and must be considered for those who are just opening their first shop.
One of the biggest selling points of vaping is that it is cheaper than smoking regular cigarettes while still allowing users to get the satisfaction of smoking. The cost of cigarettes varies wildly from state to state, so you need to investigate that before you open your vape shop. This investigation also has the potential to shape the marketing that you do for your newly opened store.
As far as specific products are concerned, emphasize juice selection over vape pen choices and kits. Kits are much like printers that people will buy – it’s only done every so often, sometimes only once every few years. The juices, on the other hand, are like the toner that is bought for the printer. It’s a much more frequent purchase, guaranteeing repeat business from your vaping clientele.
As for kits, you should sell 50% starter kits, 40% mid-level kits, and 10% high-level kits. Many people sell only high-end kits and it gets their business into trouble. But if you can sell a quality starter kit and get people used to buying products from you, they may move up to a higher level one day. With the high rate of innovation in vaping products, it’s better to focus on reliable lower-end kits as the bread and butter of kit sales.
In the very beginning, you might want to save money and be the only person working in your vape shop. This allows you to see the type of clientele who’s walking into your newly opened shop and understand what type of product is moving or not moving. Depending on the hours that you work, the time that you put in can be grueling, where much of it is spent working on your online marketing plan and waiting for people to come into the store.
When you do decide to hire someone, whether part-time or full-time, you’ll need to look into a payroll program and other ways to make the process easier. Hiring people is a trade-off, and sometimes not necessarily worth it to the fledgling store owner. The payoff depends on the quality of the worker that you bring on board.
Marketing and promotion
Vapers are tech-savvy individuals. Thus, your marketing should start by covering the net. Get your shop registered with Google, Yelp, and apps devoted to finding vape shops nearby. Make your shop easy to find online and encourage people to leave reviews.
Once your online presence is established, look for local alternative papers and college newspapers for further promotional opportunities. Vaping is still a trendy activity and not fully mainstream yet. Thus, you’ll need to reach people who are interested in novelty. Alternative papers are a great place to advertise your vape shop to the local community.
If you keep these principles in mind when you’re opening your vape shop, you’ll have a good chance of success. Read about the experiences of other owners as well to see what they did wrong and right in their quest for small business ownership. Good luck with your venture, and happy vaping!
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