Vaporz Vault Article by Vape Magazine

LADY BABY BOOMERS IN THE VAPE SPACE

Words and photos by Norm Bour

Cyndi Peute, owner of Vaporz Vault in Hobart, Ind., is a rule breaker. She didn’t try to be, but she defies the “traditional” image of most vape shop owners.

She’s a female, age 58, who left a 17-year career working for the United States Steel Corporation because she wanted to “be an entrepreneur.” And she has. On top of that, she never vaped until she decided to became a vape shop owner.

“After decades as an employee, I decided I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to work for myself,” she said. A bold move, but she had the support and encouragement of her husband, Appie Peute, who has been a lifelong entrepreneur himself.

Since opening her shop in January 2015, her revenue steadily has been increasing. Many of those who inspire others are humble or do not recognize the impact they make. That is just one factor in choosing her shop as my vape shop of this issue.

How Vape Shops Become Significant

Before they ever started they did their research and looked for professional guidance. Another factor that helped? “Be sure you hire the right employees to help you run your shop.”

“My manager, Jason, knows the products inside out and we now have three other employees helping him. They cater to every type of customer, from the green-haired, heavily pierced millennials, to the blue-haired grandmothers,” she said. Her team follows Cyndi’s lead and invites everyone in with open arms. “Every day is a new crowd, and no two days are ever the same.”

Peute is in the shop every day, but leaves most of the selling to her capable staff, who are more familiar with the devices.

When asked if she worked more hours now or fewer than as an employee, she said, “In the beginning, I worked a lot of hours, then we had a lull, now a lot more than I ever did at U.S. Steel.” From early morning, she is on the computer, taking care of ordering and paperwork while her four employees run the shop.

When asked about the biggest surprise since opening her shop, she said, “I was not ready for how quickly we grew! The naysayers cautioned me from getting too excited; they said the first six months would be slow. I am happy to say that they were wrong.”

The Shifting Demographics of Vape Shop Owners

The demographics of both vapers and those who are starting a business in the vape space are shifting toward an older population.

An industry once dominated by Generation Y (those born from 1980 to about 1994), now is being intruded upon by Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980), as well as baby boomers like Peute.

They spared no expense to build their shop and made it appealing to all age groups. “We spent an insane amount of money just on ladders to climb the display racks,” Peute said.

Much of her local competition only carry house brands of e-liquids, but Vaporz Vault offers 14 different brands with 68 flavor choices. They now are launching their own house line in collaboration with one of the most respected labs in the country.

What was her personal motivation to get into the vape space?

“Both my parents and my brother were smokers. My father died of emphysema and my brother has the same illness,” she said. “So I think it’s awesome that I can help people stop smoking! To have an opportunity like that is a blessing.”

Indiana Governor’s Office Gets Aggressive Against Vaping Peute is very optimistic about the future. “It’s an exciting industry that is not going away.” But there may be challenges on the horizon coming from an unexpected place: Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s office. That takes the form of House Bill 1432, one of the most restrictive laws instituted by any state. Among the provisions:

  • E-liquid manufacturers must obtain a permit from the alcohol and tobacco commission before bottling e-liquid or selling e-liquid to retailers or distributors.,
  • Manufacturing permits require a security firm certification that the manufacturer meets security requirements. A 24- hour video recording is required where e-liquid is mixed, bottled, packaged and stored.
  • E-liquid manufacturers must obtain permits, with an application fee of $1,000.
  • No one listed on the permit can have a felony or an offense involving a controlled substance on record and the State can conduct criminal background checks on people distributing e-liquid.

These are some of the major provisions, which also cover any out of state businesses that sells any nicotine products in Indiana. This new law is signed but does not take effect until July 2016. It is under heavy scrutiny and attack as “being unconstitutional,” according to VAPE U instructor (and occasional VAPE Magazine columnist) Azim Chowdhury, who has filed suit with his legal firm, Keller and Heckman LLP. That fight is backed by many others.

The Show Must Go On!

While some things are distracting and troublesome, Peute takes each day one at a time.

Once a month they do open mic night, so she’s become friends with many of her customers. “The second Friday of every month, we invite local talent in to play. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes comedy, and we’ve had good attendance from our fans. And we’ve found amazing talent, too!”

Vaporz Vault carries 14 different liquid lines, along with the newest, hottest mods her customers want.

Their top sellers include Charlie Noble Blue Bays Cloud Collaboration, LLC by Cloud Chasers and Muffin Man and Milk Man by One Hit Wonder.

Aside from their selection, their customer service reputation has spread, and other shops send customers to them for that, as well as good builds and products.

Future plans? They are currently using VapeMentors turn-key program to develop a line of house liquids with one of the most respected labs in the country. After that, they may open another shop to help those that are driving too far, but they are not in a hurry.