Monday, June 29, 2015

Vaping For Beginners - Part 1: How To Get A Great Experience

On a daily basis, people come to me and ask about vaping,.  Many of these people have never tried vaping and heard that it could help them quit smoking while some are just curious because they are starting to see new vape shops pop up all over the place.  Over the next few weeks, I will focus these blog posts towards the beginning vaper - someone who has either tried to quit smoking unsuccessfully or someone who wants to get the best experience in their journey of getting off the smokes and into vaping.

Today, I wanted to start with How To Get A Great Experience - the first time and every time.

STEP 1 - DO YOUR HOMEWORK: The first thing any new vaper must do is educate themselves.  This could be spending hours in front of YouTube, or talking to people who already vape.  The hardest part about this self-discovery is making sure you are getting the best (and correct) information.  There are too many people online who really don't know what they are talking about - and sometimes they can be the loudest voices.  Likewise, you may have a friend who is a cloud-chaser and could possibly steer you into getting something that may not be the right device for you.  What'e even worse is going into a less-than-respectable "vape shop" to get wrong information, bad products, or getting generally overcharged for what they claim to be authentic devices.

STEP 2 - READ REVIEWS:  If you're relying on a shop to steer you into your first vape, get on Yelp or Facebook and see what others say about them.  Not all shops are created equally.  There are shops that focus on cloud-chasing or the "hangout" aspect of the vaping community.  There are dedicated vape shops that only focus on e-liquids and there are even shops that muddy the waters by being a tobacco shop or head shop that also carry a small selection of vape products.  Your best chance at success is to find a reputable business that focuses only on vaping and is run by people you can trust.  Remember, if you walk in and you're not comfortable with the environment or the people, don't spend your money there.  It's worth your time and money to support businesses that care about you and take time to explain things thoroughly.

STEP 3 - GIVE VAPE A CHANCE: I wrote about this in a previous post, but because your changing your behaviors from smoking to vaping, you have to give it a chance to work.  Commit to yourself and avoid cigarettes for at least 3-5 days.  This will allow your body to start to work with you.  Whenever you would smoke, pick up a vape instead.  Remember that the chemicals in cigarettes are what's causing you to be addicted, but the nicotine level in your vape can help get you past some of the withdrawals.

STEP 4 - EXPERIMENT WITH FLAVORS: Many people chase tobacco flavor when they are trying to quit smoking and start vaping, but remember, cigarettes taste BAD.  There are so many other flavors you can get in a vape that taste better, and may help you be more successful in the long run.  Try flavors.  Try many flavors.  Try different brands.  Visit different shops.  If they don't offer you a sample or taster of the flavor in zero nicotine, go somewhere else.  Don't buy a flavor without trying it regardless of whether a friend said it was good or not.  Every palette is different and what one person may like, another may not.

STEP 5 - GET A DEVICE THAT WORKS FOR YOU: There are thousands of devices for vaping, from the starter pen to the advanced box mods.  There are also thousands of atomizers from tanks to drippers.  Finding what works right for you based on your goals is the most important thing you can do.  Don't let a shop talk you into more than what you need.  Many of us are now hobbyists and collectors, but you don't need 5 or 20 devices to be successful in vaping.

I'll discuss hardware options in my next blog.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Breaking Through The Barriers - Give Vape a Chance

I met a friend for dinner the other night that I hadn't seen in almost a year.  He had never stepped foot into a vape shop and had never tried vaping before.  He has been smoking on and off for many years and the more we talked about how my new vape shop was going and talking about how we go about introducing people to vaping as a cigarette alternative, he asked me a very interesting question.

"What are the barriers?", he said.

He could tell I was somewhat puzzled, so he continued: 

"You know, what are some of the barriers that people face when it comes to giving it a try?  For me, I would have never considered vaping until I sat here and talked to you and actually tried it myself.  Vaping has always been something I considered to be for the hipsters - something about the people I see that do it, well, they dont really seem like my kind of people.  They seem, I dunno, like douchebags."

Even though, he pretty much insulted most all of the vaping community, that made me really think for a minute because honestly, I too had those same initial thoughts about vaping when I started using it to help quit smoking.  The first person I ever saw vaping was a complete douche.  And not just because he vaped, but sucking on a little blue glow pen and exhaling a tiny puff of "water vapor" didnt help his cause any.  Back then, there was NO WAY that vaping looked nearly as cool as I thought I was taking a long, contemplative drag of my Marlboro between my fingers and flicking an ash to the ground.  If I would have let that one guy be a barrier to me trying vaping, my life may have taken a completely different turn.

But as naive as my friend's statement was, he brought up an interesting point that night and I'd like to share with you some of the things I feel are barriers that people face when considering vaping as a smoking alternative.

Barrier #1: First Impressions

First impressions are often the most influential in any situation.  As is with vaping.  If you are new to the scene, some of the sub-culture of vapers may be an immediate barrier to wanting to try it for yourself.  Lets take my friends example, those of us in the vaping community either acknowledge, participate and/or support the act of "cloud-chasing" but to the novice, this may seem unusual.  People getting together to see who can chuck the biggest clouds may be seen to some as a turn off.  Similarly, if your first impression of vaping is by walking into a shop that is run by some punk kids who either dont know the 1st thing about vaping, or cant speak intelligently to help someone from all walks of life get into a device and setup for their best personal experience, this could potentially be a barrier that would prevent someone from taking the next step.  It is important as responsible business owners of a vape shop to not only hire but also continually train our staff the art of customer service, putting the needs of the customers ahead of selling the latest and greatest products.  I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a poorly run vape shop, where I find the "employees" either playing a game of grab-ass or completely ignoring their customers.  Blowing huge plumes of vapor in the face of a first time customer is a sure fire way to not only lose the sale, but also send those people right back to smoking.  Vape shops need to be a safe haven for anyone, so this barrier can be avoided.  Likewise, if youre out in public and you see people vaping irresponsibly where they shouldnt, this could also steer your opinion on the entire vaping opportunity.  Vapers, as a whole, we need to be respectful of those around us and be an ambassador for the community, not a detriment.

Barrier #2: Mind Games

People are 100% mental.  No, not crazy (although many of us have those tendencies at times), but everything you do is controlled by your mind.  A person needs to be willing to acknowledge that smoking WILL kill them, and there are better, safer alternatives to not only quit smoking, but also to get completely off the addictive nicotine.  The person has to be committed to give it a chance to work, and nobody can force anyone to do something they are not ready to do.  This will always be the most difficult barrier to overcome.

Barrier #3: The Exit Strategy

Most people quit the habit of smoking and pick up the habit of vaping.  Ask any of us that are hobbyists and collectors and we'll tell you that vaping can be a very expensive habit.  Many people need to know that vaping doesnt have to be a lifelong thing.  It is a great way to quit smoking by using vape to supplement the addiction of nicotine and satisfy the oral fixation, but as you advance in your vaping, you should be able to tailor back on the nicotine levels.  Once the addition of that chemical is gone, there can also be an exit strategy for also quitting vaping.  Many of us enjoy it too much, but knowing that there can be a way to end it completely and not be handcuffed by simply replacing one addiction for another should help someone overcome this barrier.

Barrier #4: Expense

As I mentioned in the previous barrier, expense can be a barrier for people when they start to look at vaping.  Sure, you can get into vaping relatively inexpensively, but anyone who has been vaping longer than a month or two will tell you, you need some serious vape budget if you plan on doing this any length of time.  Not only can advanced devices be expensive (especially if you are always chasing the latest and greatest), but just the normal expense of vaping from juice to consumables like coils, etc can add up quickly.  Most recreational vapers will go through at least 15ml of e-liquid a day (or more), so if you compare the cost of that to the cost of cigarettes, unless you are a two-pack-a-day smoker, vaping will be much more expensive over the long run.

Barrier #5: Quality of Goods Sold & Consumer Education

How many times have you purchased a juice or a piece of hardware and been completely dissatisfied for one reason or another.  For vaping to work, your devices have to work reliably, all the time.  This is often the biggest excuse for people who are trying to quit smoking to go back to the stinkys. I know for me, I make sure everything I sell, from the juice to the hardware and everything in between, is the best quality I can get.  This doesnt mean I only sell high-end authentics, but everything I provide as a responsible shop owner, either has a manufacturer defect warranty or I personally guarantee repair or replace if it's something I can control.  In the very least, I try to offer as much assistance to people, as much as I can.  Another thing is making sure the customer is steered into something appropriate for their level and experience and they leave with an understanding of how everything works.  If more manufacturers and vendors did the same, this barrier would be much easier to overcome.  Educating the consumer is hugely important not only to their success but to the growth of the industry as a whole.

Those are the 5 barriers that I could come up with in the short amount of time in writing this blog post. Feel free to use the comment section below to offer feedback or provide some barriers of your own.  As always, please come visit me at Zootie's Vapors at 40602 Charles Town Pike in Paeonian Springs VA 20129 and we'll be happy to help you overcome the barriers you face to quit smoking and start vaping.  We want you to be successful and give vape a chance.