How To Open A Vape Shop And Keys To Success

By August 31, 2018Vaping
starting a vape and e-liquid retail business

The future of vaping is bright. With outstanding growth projections, opening a vape shop is an attractive prospect. The leading analyst of the vaping industry is Wells Fargo’s Bonnie Herzog. She projects a rosy future for vaping. Herzog forecasts that the industry is going to double in the next few years. This industry has yet to peak. With that said, the competition is stiff. Opening a vape shop will not be enough. You will have to open an awesome vape shop.

The rapidly expanding market represents an excellent opportunity. But how to open a vape shop begins with the knowledge that there will be a lot of work! And the rewards could be substantial. The key is having quality products and offering an excellent customer experience.

There are basically two choices for opening a vape shop. Those two choices are opening a franchised shop, or an independent shop. There are advantages and disadvantages for both choices.

Buying A Vaping Franchise

Buying a vaping franchise will require significant up front cash. Franchise fees can run anywhere from $50 K to $100 K. The main advantage of a franchise is the support and instant brand recognition. The shop layout, logo, design, and website will all be included in the price. There is also the advantage of support and marketing assistance from a head office. If you have the cash or access to financing, a vape shop franchise can give you a bit of a head start compared to opening an independent shop.

The downside to opening a vape shop franchise is the fact that significant financing is required. Not everyone can get $100 K in credit. The other downside is that a franchisee will be limited to selling the products that are offered by a head office. That expertise can be a help, but it can also limit what you may want to do as a business owner.

How To Open A Vape Shop Independently

how to open a vape shop

If you don’t have the initial large investment to open a franchise vape shop, there is always good old fashioned bootstrapping. An independent vape shop owner basically just needs a business license, tax id, tobacco sellers license, merchandise, transaction equipment, and a place of business. As an independent owner, you can choose your merchandise as opposed to being limited to what a franchise provides to sell.

How much would it cost to start an independent vape shop? That all depends on where you live, the costs of licenses, leasing a space, etc. It all starts by researching those costs in your area. In general, starting an independent shop should cost roughly half of what it would cost to start a franchise. Being able to choose your merchandise and lower starting costs are two of the advantages of being an independent owner.

  • Start by researching what business licenses you will need to sell vapor products in your area.
  • Locate a source for wholesale products.
  • When you are ready to file a business with your local municipality and state, you may need some legal help for the paper work. Some online legal services may help.
  • Find a suitable location that fits your budget.
  • Look for a location that is visible from a busy street, has nearby parking, and allows for walk in traffic.
  • Make sure you have excellent exterior signage.
  • Ensure that you have staff that knows the products, and knows vaping!

You read this list and there are no surprises. There may well be road bumps to navigate before you ever get to hang an open sign. There always are. But make a plan and stick to it.

Vape Shop Customer Acquisition

Starting a vape shop from scratch means that there is no built in brand recognition. As soon as you have licenses, name and location, start marketing! Start marketing at least a month before you open your doors. Use social media to build up an anticipation of a grand opening. Make sure to have a special offer to attract customers. Some social media sites are cracking down on tobacco related business so be aware of that.

Building A Social Media Profile

markeying a vape shop on social media

Start a Facebook page. It is easy to do. Perhaps connect with the admins of a Facebook vaping group in your area and see if you can do a cross promotion such as offering group members a discount in exchange for liking and sharing your business page. Make posts every day counting down to a grand opening. Vaper will be curious about a new shop in their area. You just have to make sure you deliver when they come in your door!

Start a Twitter account for your shop. Also use daily Tweets to count down to the grand opening. Do the same on LinkedIn, Instagram, and others if you have time. As long as you have the big ones, that will be a good place to start. As you ramp up to the grand opening, you will be busy! So cover the main bases and you can worry about some of the finer details as you go.

These are simply the obvious steps regarding gaining a profile using social media. There may be other ways depending on what is available in your area. For example, there may be a Sub Reddit group for vapers in your area. Watch for vaping events and expos in your area. That could be an excellent place to meet local vapers.


Your shop needs to be on Yelp! Spend a lot of time on this, make your Yelp page as informative as you can. But I do have a warning. Never pay for fake Yelp reviews! They are very good at ferreting out fake review. Buying reviews will hurt your business and Yelp placement.

Building A Website For Your Vape Shop

A website is a good idea although not essential. At least not at the beginning. If you do not have the budget for a website, that is something that you can worry about later. When you start a website from scratch, it takes a long time to build a website to a point where it will show in search results. It is worthwhile and you should, but it is not critical at the outset.

If you do have the budget for a website, or even want to make your own using an easy website builder like on Go Daddy, that is great! Start with a few simple pages. Share your story. Add personal touches. Talk about your products and why people should come to your shop.

Selling Vapor Products Online

While you do eventually need a website for your store, selling online is another matter. Online sales platforms can be expensive. You will need a programmer and content for potentially hundreds of web pages. If you have the money, then it could be a worthy investment. But know that you will be competing with large, established websites that dominate internet search results. It can take years to crack those search results. Not do throw water on your ambitions, but focusing on your retail store first and worrying about online sales later is probably the best way to go. Just keeping it real.

Initially, your best bet is a cheap, basic website talking about your shop and customer service. That is a good start. As time goes on you can always upgrade your website.

  • Note: Even if you do not build a website right away, by all means buy your domain name as soon as you can. You can use a service like Go Daddy or Name Cheap. Buying a domain name is cheap. Make sure you own your domain name!

Hiring Staff

Hire staff who knows about vaping! Working in a vape shop is not a fit for someone who does not know vapor products. It is always tempting to hire a friend or relative but you have to be focused on the customer experience. Vaping has its own language. Most vapers are technically sophisticated customers and have expectations when shopping. For example, knowing what type of coils work with a specific tank is important. Knowing the difference between Kanthal and stainless steel is important. The point is to hire staff that knows the products and knows the customers.

Many people who come in to the shop may have never vaped before. Your staff will need to be able to speak the language of the aficionado, but staff will also have to provide a vape guide for beginners. There are still many adult tobacco consumers that have yet to try an electronic cigarette.

It is also critically important that your staff know the rules! Make sure that they check ID if there is any doubt and never sell to minors.

Be A Welcoming Place

As a retail brick and mortar store, you have lease fees, staff costs, maintenance, etc. Because of the overhead, it is very hard to compete with the prices that consumers can find online. The advantages that you have are that you can supply products instantly. Customers do not have to wait for shipping. The other advantage is the personal interaction. A vape shop is part social club. A place where vapers can talk vaping!

Be Aware Of Vaping Trends!

There are trends in vaping. For example, squonking was the it thing a couple of years ago. Then it switched to advanced temperature control mods. Then on to the next thing. Then squonking came back. You have to be on top of the trends. Over the years we have seen numerous trends. Be ready to adapt. Flexibility is key.

The best bet is to carry a wide range of products for all types of vapers. That includes the beginners to the competition cloud chasers. You don’t need a tron of specific products, but you should have a range. Have the hot products as well as a base of devices and liquids for the beginners and the aficionados.

Where To Get E-cig Merchandise

opening a vape shop and buying inventory

Part of how to open a vape shop is figuring out where to get your merchandise. Typically, vape shops buy from wholesalers. That is the best way to go. You can buy directly from manufacturers but it is unlikely that you will get a better price than you will from a wholesaler. The reason is that wholesale suppliers buy in large quantities for lower prices.

If an independent shop owner contacts a company like Joyetech for example, you can get a product like the Espion mod for $55. But a wholesaler will buy 1,000 Espions for $40 and sell to you for $50. In addition, you don’t have to pay an import duty. So it is better to buy from a wholesaler.

Do not forget batteries and chargers! Vape shops do a good business with batteries and chargers. It would also be a good idea to give each battery customer a guide to vape battery safety. Just a small slip of paper advising to only use a proper charger, do not carry loose batteries in a pocket or purse, don’t let batteries drain to less than 1/3, and so on. The idea is to help new customers understand the importance of safety.

Just as a suggestion, an all in one package can help cinch a sale with a new customer. Offer a deal on a combination mod, tank, batteries, charger, and juice.

American Vape Brands

Very few vape shops carry products from American vape brands. I think that they are making a mistake. Of course you need to hot and popular imported vape devices. But there is an advantage to be gained by working with an American based company. Primarily, you shop will have products that other shops will not. Everyone is going to carry the hot products, you need to. Specifically when it comes to warranties.

Dealing directly with a US based brand represents an easy process for shop owners. There are no language barriers and if there is a warranty issue, US companies are much easier to work with.

When looking for merchandise for a vape shop, contact Apollo. We have access to the best prices from the best manufacturers in China as well as offering a unique line of Apollo products. Many US companies simply rebrand popular imported products. Not Apollo. Our electronic cigarettes and vape gear is designed by our R&D team and you won’t find it anywhere else. If you are starting a vape shop, by all means give us a call.

Call us toll free at 1-855-2-APOLLO (855-227-6556)

Where To Get E-Liquid For A Vape Shop

best e-liquids to carry in a vape shop

E-liquid is the bread and butter of any vape shop. Customers may buy a new mod once a year, but e-liquids are where you earn repeat business and build relationships with your customers. It is important to have high quality e-liquid, preferable made and sourced in the USA.

Apollo offers dozens of lines of unique e-liquids. Carrying the big name brands is great, just keep in mind that customers can get those brands at any shop. It would make sense to have them, but it would be advantageous to carry e-liquids that customers will come specifically to your shop to get. Apollo e-liquids are made at our state of the art California lab. All of our juices are made in the USA using only the best ingredients sourced from American suppliers.

We can help you find the perfect e-liquids for your business and your customers. Apollo e-liquid is a premium quality. Get in touch with us to talk about your plan and we can help you carry the e-liquids that your customers will love.

Contact Apollo E-Cigarettes


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