We turned in our last set of keys today for our retail locations. It was a tough decision, and I was certain there would be many tears as we locked the doors for the last time. But something amazing has been taking place! Over the past two weeks, as word got out that we were closing down our retail stores, Scott and I started to receive emails, chats, Facebook messages, and phone calls from YOU! We were bracing for your disappointment. We expected a small amount of gloating from some who predicted our demise because we wouldn’t allow children in the stores, or ‘community cartos’ for sampling, or because we had customers sign Liability Waivers when they were purchasing a lithium ion battery. But none of that happened. Instead, what we received was immense support and encouragement to keep going! My tears aren’t of sadness; my tears are from overwhelming gratitude for YOU. 🙂
One of our newer employees asked us to tell him about some of the most unusual customer interactions we’ve had over the past six years, so I thought I would share here too.
There was the 80-something year old lady that we met early on in our vaping venture. Scott met her back before we had a retail store
, and we were selling kits out of the back of his 1992 Honda Accord. She had been smoking for 56 years. Now, I can’t relay the entire story of what happened due to FDA’s regulations, but I will tell you that she was the first one who came to us a month after vaping and wanted a big hug because vaping was a godsend for her.
I recall a married couple coming into the 47th Terrace location one night to check us out (and by “us”, I’m pretty sure they were checking me and Scott out to make sure we weren’t scammers LOL). The wife was probably the most skeptical person I had met. She started on the 4081 mod
el (the mod
el BEFORE the 808
s that everyone loved). I remember she wanted a pink set of batteries. She left that night, amazed that this little device looked so much like a cigarette, but didn’t quite taste like one, and had no lingering smell (not that any of us could smell in those early days). The next day, they both came back in to the store
as ‘true believers’. They eventually upgraded throughout the years, then slowly weened themselves off vaping altogether. I remember feeling such joy for them for meeting their goal of quitting.
One of my favorite stories involved a guy who was a 2-pack a day smoke
r. He was not impressed with the size of the ego
style batteries. He wanted to kick the habit using an 808
kit. I talked with him for a while, and told him that I was a 2-pack a day smoke
r too, and I started with “the one that looks like a cigarette”. I was charging batteries so often that it was driving me insane. So when the ego
s came out, I was all over it. I told him that I would be happy to sell him whichever kit he liked, but based on his smoking habit, I didn’t think he would be happy with the 808
. He felt certain he would be. He came in the very next day, with a big smile, and said, “yeah…I want the bigger battery”. It was funny. We had a good laugh for years over that.
Not all of our stories were done face-to-face. Some of you we got to know online and over the phone. I remember one sweet lady who used to call once a week to order online. She was the friendliest, funniest, most-storytelling customer I ever met. Guaranteed that we would be on the phone for an hour or more just talking. We loved talking to her too. This was back when Buddy would work the phones with us too, and we all had a good story to tell when we got off the phone with her. She was a blast.
Anyone who has ever worked in customer service will have bad experiences to share, but in trying to come up with some, I found my mind wandering toward all of the GOOD that we’ve experienced. It was a struggle to remember the bad. Not that it didn’t happen, but when you have so many fantastic stories to tell, why focus on the bad ones? Look, we all know what it’s like when you can’t get a good hit on your vape
device. I know that I’m not that pleasant to be around when it happens to me, and I completely understand what it’s like when a favorite flavor is out of stock, or a trusted battery isn’t working, or your coil isn’t firing correctly. I hope that you all know that I’m not going to take it personally if you get testy, and I’m certainly not going to dwell on the ‘bad’. Our goal has always been to find the solution that makes you happy. When we fail, we strive to learn from it. But when we get it right, we want you to trust that we’ll always try to strive for that.
To my point of this post: we are still here. We may not get to talk face-to-face, but we will chat with you anytime. I can’t speak for anyone else, but vaping saved me from a life of coughing fits (every night, you guys!), stinky hair, yellow fingers, and burn marks on my patio table. We’ve seen and heard how it’s changed your lives. We may have a ‘big company’ looking website
, but we’re a small, family-run vaping company. We know where you are in your vaping journey because we’ve been there ourselves. We will continue to do our part in fighting to keep vaping safe and legal for everyone.
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Where it all started in Cape Coral, FL