One thing is certain in the world of vape shops these days: There is a lot of competition. There are multiple vape shops in every large city in the United States, and many medium cities have more than one vape shop as well. That’s a great thing for you as a consumer because a company with competition will always work harder to attract and retain your business. Which vape shop near you, however, is the one that most deserves your patronage? That’s what you’re going to learn from reading this article. These are the things that you should consider when you’re trying to choose the best local vape shop.
Commitment to Product Authenticity
One of the biggest problems facing the vaping industry today is the flood of counterfeit products. In December 2020, officers from the United States Customs and Border Protection agency seized $719,453 worth of counterfeit vaping products at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport – and that’s just one month of enforcement actions at one airport. There are very large factories in China doing nothing but making fake puff bars, counterfeit JUUL pods and everything else you can imagine – and for every shipment of counterfeit goods that gets seized, many others make it through customs and end up on the shelves at vape shops that aren’t careful about vetting their product suppliers.
Long-time vape shop owners have the industry experience to understand the dangers of counterfeit vaping products. Oklahoma City vape shop The Vape Bar, for example, only sources its products from the original manufacturers or from distributors authorized by the original manufacturers prevent fake puff bars and counterfeit pods from ending up in customers’ hands. Fake vape gear is a serious potential safety issue. In the United States, manufacturers of vaping products are required to put ingredient lists on the products’ packaging. If you buy fake vape gear, though, you really have no idea what you’re inhaling. It is incredibly important to buy from a local vape shop that’s serious about sourcing its products from reliable suppliers.
Fair Pricing Even in a Low-Competition Market
When you’ve shopped for vape gear online recently, you may have noticed an unpleasant change that’s taken place over the past few months: Prices have noticeably increased. That’s because the federal government’s omnibus spending bill for 2021 – which funded the government for the year and included much-needed COVID aid – also included new legislation that may have changed the vaping industry in the United States forever.
- As of the beginning of 2021, all companies shipping vaping products across state lines must comply with the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, which means that those companies must record extensive information about customers’ purchases and transmit that information to the taxation authorities in the states to which those companies ship.
- The omnibus spending bill also directed the U.S. Postal Service to ban all shipments of vaping products to consumers.
The omnibus spending bill directed the USPS to implement the ban by April 26, 2021. At the time of writing, however, the USPS is late in implementing the ban and has no timetable for doing so. The vape mail ban could be implemented any day, though – and when that happens, none of the major carriers will ship vaping products to consumers. FedEx, UPS and DHL have already implemented similar bans on the shipment of vaping products.
These changes have had several effects on online vape shops around the country.
- Complying with the PACT Act requires registering with the tax collection authorities in every state to which a vape shop ships. Satisfying the record keeping requirements is extremely expensive. The vape shops that couldn’t afford to comply closed at the beginning of 2021, and those that could comply passed at least a portion of those costs to their customers. This is the primary reason why prices went up at online vape shops around the beginning of the year.
- While vape shops wait for the USPS to implement the vape mail ban, they’re still shipping vape gear by mail. However, all shipments now require the carrier to check identification and obtain an adult’s signature. The adult signature requirement increases shipping costs, and that’s another expense that’s been passed on to consumers.
- When the vape mail ban finally does get implemented, the costs associated with buying vape gear online will increase yet again because vape shops will have no choice but to ship products through private courier services.
What does all of this mean if you’re not interested in buying vape gear online and only want to buy from a vape shop near you? Online vape shops have been undercutting brick-and-mortar vape shops for years, and many local vape shop owners see the new vape regulations as their opportunity to get back some of the profits they’ve been losing. You can determine what the fair prices for your favorite e-liquids, coils and other products are with a little research. Even if you live in a market with little competition, you should buy only from a vape shop that’s committed to fair pricing.
Willingness to Provide Personal Attention
One of the biggest benefits of buying your vape gear locally instead of shopping online is that you have an opportunity to work face-to-face with shop owners who will take an interest in you and learn about your product preferences. It’s worth the effort, then, to seek out a vape shop with owners and employees who think of you as something more than just another source of revenue. When the people at your local vape shop care about your journey as a vaper, you’ll always have someone you can go to when you have a question about your vaping equipment or want some suggestions about new e-liquids to try.
Another reason for buying from a local vape shop that cares about your needs is because, when the vape mail ban is finally implemented, some products might become hard to find. It’s very useful to have a local vape shop that’s willing to make special orders if your favorite e-liquid or the coils for your tank suddenly become scarce.