By Norm Bour
It’s not often we walk into a vape shop and say “Oh My God.” That is actually a common reaction when entering one of the most beautiful vape shops I have ever seen.
The city of Draper, Utah, is 20 miles south of Salt Lake City and has a population of 45,000 people. Within close proximity are the much larger cities of Sandy and Orem and neither they nor Draper had a vape shop until March of this year. The closest is more than five miles away.
The religiously conservative state was not in favor of vape shops and there are less than 50 in the entire state. Owner Nathan Coccimiglio knew he had to do it right. His shop had to have class and not create an impression of cloud chasing, law-breaking vapors.
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Working with Politicians and The System
Coccimiglio is no stranger to working with politicians and as the SFATA co-president for the state, he wields local muscle as well as having friends in high places.
His previous career was working with precious metals and private security. As the gate keeper for millions of dollars of metals, he became friends with local politicos, law enforcement leaders and business heavyweights.
In 2009 he got into the supplement business and sold it for a profit just 18 months later. Because of this background people approached him about making vaping liquids, which he knew nothing about.
After much research he saw the potential and opened Tronic Vapes, followed later by Cash Vape. These were both successful e-liquid lines so he knew there was just one step left in his vertical market domination: retail shops.
“Since we knew most of the local politicians we had an edge,” Coccimiglio said. “We knew them; they knew us, so we had to wow them. We brought in SFATA leaders to explain the business and show credibility, got their approval, then looked for the best location we could.”
With the blessings of the Town Fathers they found a spot in a newer shopping center with about 20 other shops, many of them well-known name brands or anchor shops. They are a short five-minute walk from the local subway station and just as close to many businesses that employ vapers.
Upon entering Draper Vapor the first thought I had was: “This reminds me of a museum.” Coccimiglio and shop manager Sarah Wong both laughed since that was what they were trying for.
“We wanted a combination of a museum and an Apple Store,” Wong shared. “Clean, classy and a wholesome, yet cutting-edge image that would appeal to the Utah mindset.”
With 20 foot ceilings (they removed the dropped ceilings and tiles), Draper Vapor feels industrial without feeling cold. With black and reds throughout, along with display cases along the perimeter, they created a unique layout.
The retail counter is in the center of the shop and there is not a bottle of liquid in site. They offer 16-20 lines, which is still growing, and each sampled flavor has its own tank and line though an Octopod System, made by Korebrand. This keeps each flavor clean with no cross contamination.
Coccimiglio is a pro at branding. His Cash Vapes line is represented by an armored car which they take to vaping events. It also has an interesting history as it was previously owned by rapper Snoop Dogg.
The Draper Vapor logo is intended to represent shops number two and number three as well, which they plan to open this year. It will be worn on clothing and become their public branding.
“We want our logo to be iconic like the Nike swish. Even though Draper Vapor may be in Orem or another city, that logo represents quality of product and service.”
Manager Wong, a long time smoker, previously worked for Nordstrom’s department stores and understands the value of service. The Seattle-based retailer maintains a century old reputation for customer service and quality.
If Draper Vapor symbolizes the best of what this industry can offer, we may be heading in the right direction. They had a standing room only crowd at their grand opening, along with roped off red carpeting and turnstiles. I suspect their crowds will remain strong in this shop as well as the others.
Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.2 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.