Are you a prospective entrepreneur with a strong desire to launch a new business? If you’re a former smoker who became tobacco free with the help of e-cigarettes, there’s a good chance that the idea of opening a vape shop has crossed your mind. You know what you pay for e-liquid and vape gear, and if you’ve ever struck up a conversation with a vape shop owner, you know that vaping products sometimes sell at enormous profit margins. The prospect of selling a product you believe in – and making huge profits while doing it – might prove almost irresistible.
So, is 2019 the right time to open a vape shop? Do you think you have what it takes to compete with the big boys like ecigaretteempire.com? Before you even think about entering the vaping industry, these are some very important points that you should consider.
Research Your Market Before Starting a Vape Shop
In the United States, there are already many thousands of vape shops. If you happen to live in a community that isn’t already served by a vape shop, consider yourself lucky; you could actually strike it rich. Most cities, however, already have well-established vape shops – and those shops won’t be your only competition. You’ll also be competing against gas stations and convenience stores selling JUUL and other mainstream e-cigarettes. If you’re considering entering the vaping industry in a city that already has a vape shop, you should know your answers to two questions before starting.
• The population of vapers in your city may grow as more people decide to switch from smoking to vaping. What will you do to make sure that those people buy their vape gear from your shop?
• The selection of products that you carry will be much the same as what’s already available at other vape shops in your area. What will you do to differentiate your business?
Understand the Complicated Legal Landscape for U.S. Vape Shops
The FDA has been in the process of putting regulations in place for the vaping industry since 2016, and the rules that companies in the industry must follow have changed many times over the past few years. Make no mistake; when you’re in the vaping industry, the government considers you a seller of tobacco products and will watch you closely. Running a vape shop isn’t just a matter of ensuring that you’re in compliance with all applicable laws. Due to government regulations, much of the U.S. vaping industry faces the very real prospect of disappearing less than a year from now.
• In the past, many vape shops manufactured their own e-liquids in house. Vape shops could sell house e-liquids inexpensively, and interesting flavor selections helped to differentiate one vape shop from the next. Beginning in 2016, however, it became illegal to sell a new vaping product in the United States without a marketing order from the FDA. Starting a new house e-liquid brand in the United States is essentially impossible now.
• In September 2019, President Donald Trump announced to the nation that he intended to ban all flavored e-liquids except those meant to taste like tobacco. As of November 2019, the ban has not occurred – but if it does, vape shops will suddenly have very few products that they can legally sell.
• With or without a flavor ban, all companies in the vaping industry must submit applications for FDA approval of their products by May 2020. The pre-market application process for tobacco products is incredibly costly, and most companies in the vaping industry will not have the funds necessary to complete that process. Any vaping product without a pending or approved pre-market application will need to be removed from the market in May 2020 unless something changes. At that time, U.S. vape shops will have substantially fewer vaping products to sell.
If You’re Serious About Entering the Vaping Industry, Plan an Exit Strategy
Is your passion for vaping a major aspect of why you’re considering opening a vape shop? Does the idea of selling other types of products leave you feeling a bit flat and disinterested? If you can’t see yourself selling anything other than vaping products, starting a vape shop in 2019 is probably not the best idea because, as mentioned above, there may not be many vaping products that you can still legally sell in May 2020. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in the vaping industry in 2019, but it does mean that you need to have an exit strategy in place before you begin.
Explore the other vape shops in your area and see what they’re offering. You’re going to find a wide variety of products that have nothing to do with e-liquid vaping. Those products may include:
• Tobacco products such as rolling papers and machines, filters, roll-your-own tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco
• Cannabis products such as glass pipes, vaporizers and grinders
• Supplements such as kratom and CBD
• Snacks and beverages
A fully diversified vape shop is actually a vape shop, a novelty shop, a head shop and a tobacconist all in one. Such a shop can tolerate the loss of flavored e-liquids without going out of business. It’s even possible that the loss of flavored e-liquids could result in the rise of an entirely new industry segment. The dry herb vaporizers that many people use for cannabis, for example, could just as easily be used to vaporize tobacco. If vapers lose their favorite e-liquid flavors, some people might decide to use tobacco vaporizers rather than going back to smoking cigarettes. You could position your vape shop at the center of that trend if you plan ahead.
Either way, if you’re thinking about entering the vaping industry, you need to make sure that your shop is fully diversified by 2020. Having a wide variety of products in stock requires an enormous investment, though, and if you can’t make that investment – or you simply don’t want to because you’re only interested in selling vaping products – starting a vape shop is probably not the best idea for you.