The Battle between Smoke Shops vs. Vape Shops - Part 1: Who has the better business model?

January 30, 2018

The Battle between Smoke Shops vs. Vape Shops   -   Part 1: Who has the better business model?

Smoke shops and vape shops are very different businesses offering vapers very different experiences.

Before we begin, I wanted to make it clear that the conversation here is not who is a bigger supporter of vaping or who has the better-looking store. This is merely a commentary of business practices.

While convenience chains and major retailers like Wal-Mart sell vape gear, it’s limited to sparse offerings from Big Tobacco. They’ve long dominated those stores and have pockets deep enough to block everyone else out.

Since most of Big Tobacco’s vape products honestly suck, that leaves smoke and vape shops as the only places for people to experience the most innovative e-juices and hardware.

But vape retail is brutal. I’ve seen more than half the vape accounts we used to have go under in the past 3 years. More within the past year.


There are a lot of factors involved. Some stores ran out of money, got too comfortable or didn’t really know how to run retail stores to begin with. The vape boutique that used to hold vape competitions and allowed their customers to hang at the store all day was actually hurting their business in the long run. 

If you’re new to vaping, walking into a vape store can be very intimidating. There are rows upon rows of flavored juices, coils, tanks, batteries, and other unknown products everywhere. It’s already a daunting task to figure out what you like, much less doing it while surrounded by cloud-chasing pros performing seemingly superhuman feats. It’s obvious that the fun and games are over and its time for everyone to step their business game up before the ride is over. 

Bottom Line:

Vape Shops may win the battle in advocacy but Smoke Shops may win in business in the long run. I hope I’m wrong, but the data isn’t showing much hope for vape shops at the moment.

More continued on Part 2: Why Smoke Shops have the advantage

Conrad Alberto is the owner and founder of Vape Chemist. 
Additional content by Brian Penny.

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