The big news in this new year is the opening of three new vaping bars in the continental US as The trend towards e-cigarette acceptance continues apace in the United States.
The first of its kind in the northwest United States, a new vaping bar opened its doors on December 29, 2011 in Olympia, Washington State. Two other vaping lounges have recently opened in Myrtle Beach South Carolina and McKinney, Texas.
Volcano Vapor Café
Called the “Volcano Vapor Café”, the new Washington vaping bar celebrated its “grand opening” on January 1, 2012 and has been brisk business ever since. If it seems odd that such an avant-garde establishment opened in Olympia, some sixty miles south of the far better known Seattle, it’s because it is legal to vape in public places in Olympia’s Thurston County, whereas Seattle’s King County banned the practice in 2010 when it made everywhere that tobacco cigarettes are banned.
The Volcano Vapor Café is unique in the Pacific Northwest, a geographic area that comprises Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the U.S. and British Columbia and the Yukon in Canada. Vaping bars are a relatively rare phenomena in the United States.
At the moment, the Volcano Vapor Café is an e-cig and coffee house—its owner Zakk Johnston is also proprietor of an espresso bar in a nearby town—but Johnston has plans to add a more varied menu and possibly live entertainment in the near future.
In a financial climate that is seeing the closure of many restaurants, bars and cafes, the Volcano Vapor Café is a bright spot not only for vapers but the small business climate in the area as well.
The café is open from 11 am to 2am daily. Visit their Facebook Page.
Myrtle Beach’s new vaping bar is called the iVape Lounge and grew organically out of owner Joe Battista’s almost obsessive need to find out all he could about e-cigarettes, including their viability as business investment.
Battista originally entered the e-cig market selling the electronic devices and their accessories out of the trunk of his car after successfully quitting his own many year smoking habit using the devices. He next opened a website iVape.net in 2010 marketing the iVape brand of electronic cigarettes which he developed with the expertise of Chinese manufacturers of the product.
His near missionary zeal when it comes to e-cigs has led to him becoming an e-cig and vaping expert in the South Carolina area, opening the vaping lounge seemed the next logical step. The iVape lounge combines a e-cig shop with a social club atmosphere, with snack machines and complimentary coffee on offer. Vapers gather together to socialize and relax, but those newly converted to e-cig use can also learn the fine points of the art of vaping at the lounge, a cause Battista is committed to. The entrepreneur decries the fact that most e-cig sellers at malls or gas station mini-marts don’t have the faintest idea of how their lucrative product works; they are only in it for the fast buck. Battista prefers to refer to his shop/lounge customers as clients and wants their vaping experience to be a high quality one. He stresses quality of product over price tag—the two are not necessarily synonymous in the e-cigarette marketplace he finds.
The iVape Lounge opened in Loris, South Carolina adjacent to the popular tourist destination of Myrtle Beach on December 15, 2011 and held a grand opening event on January 5th. The lounge has a Facebook page.
The Vapor Bar
The McKinney, Texas “The Vapor Bar” opened its doors on January 9th and is believed to be the first and only vaping lounge to be currently found in the second largest state in the United States. “The Vapor Lounge” is owned by Schell Hammel, a former 22 year smoker who recently not only quit tobacco smoking herself, but also convinced her father to give up a 40 year smoking habit by introducing him to e cigarettes as an alternative.
Hammel sidesteps the current controversies about how safe e-cigs really are by stressing that by removing combustion of tobacco products—which produce over 4000 chemical and toxic by-products a number of which are widely recognized as carcinogenic—e-cigarettes ARE a cleaner and less toxic alternative. To Schell it’s a matter of tradeoffs—with anything that reduces exposure to cigarette smoke as being more desirable. Since nicotine is not considered a class “A” drug the fact that the e-cig is considered by most to be a nicotine delivery device of dubious benefit, Hammel has no problem with promulgating their use.
Hammel, like the Vapor Lounge’s Joe Battista, did her homework before opening her shop/bar, extensively researching the available e-cig brands. Hammel deals exclusively in the T-Riva e-cig brand, the one she found to be the highest quality with the best “throat hit” and sells a start kit for around $100 which includes two batteries, a vaporizer and a flavor cartridge.
Having lost three out of four grandparents to lung cancer, Hammel is committed to reducing the risk to the general public by educating them about the benefits of e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative both at the bar and via her online shop.
Know of a great vapor bar that should be listed here? Contact me with the details and I’ll add it to the list.