Seven quick questions—and answers—about e-liquid
By Timothy Donahue
Searching for the right e-liquids to sell in your vape shop can be a daunting task. Vapor Voice spoke with Tim Wilson, general manager of the Vapor Lounge and three Madvapes stores in Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Combined, the four locations sell between 2 million and 2.4 million milliliters of e-liquid per year. Wilson shares how he and his staff go about finding the right juices for his customers.
Vapor Voice: Other than house brands, how many brands of e-liquid do you carry?
Tim Wilson: We carry around 30 premium lines, and that lineup is always changing. We drop lines and bring in new ones monthly, based on performance. Some of the most popular choices include brands such as Ripe Vapes, Smax, Teleos and ANML.
With so many options available, is it challenging to find brands customers will enjoy?
The most challenging part is peoples’ fickleness, the constant desire for something new and the die-hards who only vape the same flavor. I am constantly changing flavors myself, so finding decent high-quality liquids at a good price is challenging. I try to be as accommodating as possible. I’ve brought in lines or particular flavors at a customer’s recommendation. It is rare that we do an entire line anymore. We generally just pick flavor combinations that are not currently present in our lineup.
How do you select the outside e-liquid you carry?
Selecting brands is an involved process. Do customers like it? Do I like it? Do my employees? Will it sell? If it doesn’t answer yes to three of those questions, it’s a no-go. Social media, vape groups, customers and employee feedback are the best ways to find something new.
What qualities you are looking for in the e-liquid you provide customers?
Being produced in an ISO-certified lab is important, as is quality of ingredients (no dye, smooth nicotine) and, most importantly, taste! The wholesale and suggested retail price, along with packaging, letting regular customers try a sample and getting their feedback are vital as well.
Is your staff involved in e-juice decisions?
I make it a point to have staff try samples. If they like it and are excited about it, they are much more likely to sell it. The e-liquid company itself is important too, their business practices and how they treat their customers. I’ve refused to carry or stopped carrying a brand because of how they treated my employees or myself during our interactions. Also, the company’s willingness to assist in marketing—free giveaways or promo material—factors into my decision to carry their product.
So supplier relationships are important?
You have to build relationships with e-liquid manufacturers and distributors. Having them give you some promo material for free, such as 120 milliliters for a giveaway or competition, can do a lot to drive attention toward your store and the products you carry. Everyone likes free stuff! We also definitely try to stay away from packaging that may be viewed as controversial or seen as possibly marketing to kids.
What keeps a brand on your shelf?
Liquid is what brings people in on a regular basis, so it is one of, if not the most important thing in your shop. Yes, house brands are important, and you will have people who only vape those products. However, if you limit yourself to only those customers you are missing an opportunity to cash in on the people who don’t care to spend $20–$30 on a 30 milliliter bottle. The quality of liquid and taste is the most important thing when selecting liquids to carry, but don’t discount the draw of really good packaging and a top-notch marketing team. Bottom line: It’s got to taste good.