E-cigs have quickly moved into the main stream of American life and are gaining the support of smokers and non-smokers alike. As a vaping enthusiast with several years of experience under my belt, it’s easy to see how this rapidly evolving industry and the huge selection of products could easily cause confusion for new vapers. Once available almost exclusively online, new “vape shops” are popping up across the country, providing an extra level of service and customer support that wasn’t available in the past. Although there are certainly advantages to purchasing your supplies online, brick-and-mortar vapor shops offer one-on-one, hands-on service that’s especially beneficial for newbies. Before you get started though, it’s probably a good idea to understand which is the best type of e-cig to suit you first.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the basics down, one of the main reasons you would purchase online is the huge selection of products and exceptional prices. With less overhead than a retail store, it’s impossible for most vape shops to compete with online suppliers. The web offers you the opportunity to learn about e-cigarettes at your own pace, view customer ratings, as well as discuss products and components on forums and message boards; but there is zero opportunity for hands-on experience. Local vape shops, on the other hand, allow shoppers to experience products in-person, along with a knowledgeable sales staff to assist in the decision making process.
Shopping Locally at Retail Vapor Shops
If you prefer to touch and feel a product before you buy, or appreciate having a knowledgeable salesperson available to assist you, finding a local vape shop is the way to go. For first-time users this can be especially beneficial. A good vape shop will also provide connections to community vaping groups and events, and it’s a great place to meet, interact and share with other vapers. With so many new vape stores popping up around the country, finding the “best vape shop” may seem confusing and time-consuming. Here are some tips for choosing the right vapor store.
- First impressions say a lot and should speak volumes about the quality of a vape shop. Can you tell from the exterior that it’s a vape shop, or is it actually a tobacco or smoke shop? Is it organized and clean? Are shelves filled or sparse? Do they have informative displays and samples?
- A high level of customer service is important when you’re depending on the expertise of others. Nothing turns me off more than walking into a store and being ignored or treated as if my questions are an intrusion on the clerk’s time. Were you greeted when you entered? Did you get personal attention and all of your questions answered? Are the employees knowledgeable about the products they sell or are they simply giving you a generic sales pitch? Are they as keen to help a newbie as a seasoned vaper?
- Knowledgeable employees will be able to explain the basics to beginners, as well as cover the technical aspects of regulated and/or mechanical mods, complex rebuild-able tanks and coils. They should be up on the latest trends and be able to suggest the appropriate products to help fine tune your vaping experience. Every vape shop should have at least one “guru” on-hand who can handle the most difficult or advanced questions.
- Return policies and a satisfaction guarantee convey a serious business owner who trusts the products they sell and a focus on customer service. Know what your options are, if you have a problem.
- Stocked shelves and diverse product lines from a variety of manufacturers will make experimenting easier. Hardware and accessories should be available for all levels of users from e-cigarettes, mods, PVs, etc. and the essentials (batteries, chargers, atomizers, tanks, etc.) A large assortment of in-stock e-juice flavors and a sanitary way to test them is extremely helpful when deciding on which liquids to buy.
- The location of a shop is obviously an important factor to consider, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Shoddy customer service and poor product choices could easily outweigh the benefit of a convenient location.
Tips For Buying Vaping Gear Online
If you’d prefer to shop online, it’s important for you to study all of your options, read reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Generally, it’s cheaper to buy online, but no one is there to guide you (in-person) and it’s your responsibility to find answers to your questions. Communities such as Reddit, ECF and Vaping Underground are great places to get feedback. Most vendor websites include customer reviews, but take them with a grain of salt since bad reviews are likely to get filtered.
Trust your instincts when browsing online. If a website appears disorganized or offers a deal that sounds too good to be true, move on. Is it a overseas vendor? Be sure you understand their shipping and refund policies. Do they offer a warranty? Make sure there are several ways to contact them if something goes wrong. Use the search engines to your advantage by using the site’s name along with key words such as ‘scam’ or ‘sucks’. If the results include an array of complaints or warnings, shop elsewhere.
Online vaping suppliers I trust:
There are certainly lots to choose from, but these are my favorite online vaping suppliers. They tend to have all of the best products at the most competitive prices:
- Vapor DNA (10% OFF – DNA10)
- MyFreedomSmokes (15% OFF – NEWMFS15)
- Vapor Beast (10% OFF – wowzy)
- Mad Vapes
- Vapor Kings
REPUTABLE CHINESE SUPPLIERS: 3AVape, Fast Tech, Gear Best
Whether you choose to buy online, or shop locally, there are advantages to each and a time-and-place to take advantage one over the other. It bears repeating that new vapers will certainly benefit from the opportunity to speak to an expert and test out products in-person. Likewise, experienced vapers will appreciate networking and the one-on-one support that a local vape shop provides; but keep in mind that a sales representative may not always have your best interest in-mind. Online vendors will offer customer reviews, and unbiased product ratings can be found around the Web. Online suppliers also tend to have lower prices and wider product selections, so if you know what you’re looking for, shopping online will save you money and a trip to the local store.