Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be an ongoing series. In this series I will interview proprietors of various vape-related businesses with an eye toward being active to protect everyone’s right to vape. I had the opportunity to interview Celina Tompkins from a California-based vape shop and all around vaper’s resource called VAPREV. They were heavily active in trying to keep bad e-cigarette legislation from happening in their area.
If you run a vape-related business and would be interested in being interviewed for this series, drop me a line.
SKVW: Please tell everyone about VapeRev.
CT: VapeRev began as a retail store in Cerritos, California back in January of 2012. Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of introducing the vape community to a new level of elegance and sophistication by offering consumers a large variety of quality products in an atmosphere unlike any other. Shortly after the shop opened, we began developing our website and our web-store. Our website features informative educational videos, interviews with several of the manufacturers we represent, and hardware breakdowns describing the features and specifications each of our products have. The success of our retail guests and our online visitors is very important to us, so we strive to provide all the information they need to have a stress-free transition from smoking to vaping!
[Tweet “We don’t want to give anyone another reason to dismiss the potential benefits – Celina Tompkins”]
SKVW: Why did you start the company? Are you a former smoker?
CT: I am, and I had tried to quit smoking for years. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to his eGo-C Twist that I actually saw the potential to quit as a result of using e-cigarettes. My first experience was mind blowing, and because it was so easy to enjoy I knew I could quit! I had a lot of friends and family members who smoked too, so I started showing them what I was using and one by one, those smokers became vapers. Deciding to start a business was a no-brainer at that point. I wanted to help change the world, and I’m grateful that VapeRev has allowed me to do so since 2012.
SKVW: What sort of products are your most popular?
CT: We specialize in high-end authentic hardware and premium e-liquids, but we offer a wide variety of products to suit any vaper! This industry, and the SoCal scene especially, is constantly evolving. Due to the fast-paced progression, what’s popular today may not be popular a month from now. So we work to keep the most relevant products available both in-store and online, and whether it’s a starter kit or a more advanced setup, we take pride in offering items that will appeal to everyone!
SKVW: How does the age demographic of your customer base break down?
CT: Our largest demographic are those between the ages of 18 and 35, but the age of vapers is similar to smokers. The demographic of smokers is extremely diverse, and the vape community definitely reflects that diversity.
SKVW: I understand you are based in SoCal and have been involved with attempting to defeat unfriendly legislation, tell us more.
CT: We choose to be involved because we want the world to see that the negative representation of this industry isn’t accurate. If local city council only has the media to gauge their regulation decisions on, business owners are going to have a hard time remaining successful. There are too many misconceptions circling out there, so we try to do all we can to alleviate them. We’re members of SFATA (Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association), our Facebook page only allows those over the age of 18 to view it, we carefully plan our marketing campaigns so our wording or representation of products doesn’t seem geared for the youth, we always ask for I.D. to ensure the legal age of our customers, and we critique our own work until we’re confident that nothing can be twisted or misconstrued.
SKVW: What do you see as the biggest threat to your business and the industry in general?
CT: The biggest threat is the lack of understanding that currently exists outside of those involved with the industry. If our elected lawmakers would take the time to educate themselves, or allow themselves to gain a better understanding, the decisions they’re making would probably be different. We can’t expect those who don’t understand our industry to respect it or appreciate it if we’re not willing to try and educate them.
SKVW: What should other businesses in the industry be doing to help protect the market for the future?
CT: Think critically. Identify what the complaints and concerns are currently, so that they can represent their business accordingly. We don’t want to give anyone another reason to dismiss the potential benefits vaping can have for the population.
SKVW: The current state of e-cigarette industry groups and lobbying is fragmented at best, what’s your take on the situation?
CT: Different people have different ideas. So having a fragmented display is somewhat expected, although it may not be ideal. There are groups though, such as SFATA, that are working to increase their member count so more business owners can represent the same message. A large group of people expressing one clear thought will be more effective in the long run.
SKVW: What can consumers do to ensure they always have availability for their favorite products?
CT: Consumers can get involved too! Whether it’s showing up to a local city council hearing, or writing letters to their representatives, it’s important to let their voices be heard. CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association) is another great organization that offers a ton of information about what to do, and when to do it.
SKVW: What’s your favorite vaping hardware and e-liquid?
CT: That’s a tough one. I’ve used so many different products and tried a lot of different flavors. Picking one of each to label as my favorite simply isn’t practical. As far as hardware, each item offers something different. Flavors are somewhat similar. There’s a time to enjoy sweet dessert flavors and there’s a time to enjoy complex flavors. The products I use most definitely reflect the specific situation I’m in.