Welcome to the second installment of Get to Know your Vape Vendor (GTKYVV?). This week I feature an interview with Rick Mulder of Vapor Alley. I have to confess Rick and his operation have been a friend to this site for a long time. Of course that made it easy to pick on him for an interview.
So, without further delay, here is Rick. And if you missed the last installment, you can check that one out here.
SKVW: Please tell everyone about VaporAlley.
RM: VaporAlley has been online since 2009. In 2013 we opened our location in Easton, MD
VaporAlley was formerly AtmosUSA.biz and sold the infamous Copper Mods. In 2012 (I think) we deleted the Copper Mods changed the name to VaporAlley to be more vapor friendly.
SKVW: Why did you start the company? are you a former smoker?
RM: I smoked 1 pack a day for 35 years. Back in 2009 my daughter told me about e-cigs.
I immediately drove to our Annapolis Mall and bought a plain ole’ stick style for what I recall was $150.00 plus.
On the way home I used it and thought it was a great concept but wasn’t strong enough (of course). This was before eGo style, let alone Spinners batts.
I researched online and found the ECF and immediately dove into the modders section.
The following weekend I hit Lowes and through much trial and error came up with the Copper mod.
After posting it in the mods section of ECF someone mentioned selling them here (post #28), I honestly had not thought of that, but that’s what started it all.
I basically started with 10-20 bucks in my pocked. Bought parts, sold 1, used that cash to buy more parts, etc, etc.
Next thing you know I started AtmosUSA.biz. At the time the Copper was not to popular. Remember, this is way before mech mods where an item.
In march 2012 I changed AtmosUSA.biz to VaporAlley.com and it appears that the Copper Mods faded out a few months later.
I wish I could bring them back but the Liability Insurance on “self production” is costly.
I think this is a good place to mention my wife Barbara, because without her major help and patience with me VaporAlley would not exist.
SKVW: What sort of products are your most popular?
RM: That is a very tough question. The market changes so quickly, but at this time assorted items sell most, clearomizers, IMR batts and chargers, and coil heads are most popular. Oh…and juice.
[Tweet “I wish I could bring (The Copper) back but the Liability Insurance… is costly -Rick M.”]
SKVW: How does the age demographic of your customer base break down.
RM: All over the place, from 18-80.
SKVW: Can you tell us more about where you’re based and the current state of vaping legislation/regulation in that area?
RM: VaporAlley is based in Easton, MD. So far we have been fortunate. A few months ago we had a proposed indoor vaping ban but it was shot down.
SKVW: What do you see as the biggest threat to your business and the industry in general?
RM: The obvious answer is the FDA, and in my opinion it does not look good. Local threats are minimal.
SKVW: What should other businesses in the industry be doing to help protect the market for the future?
RM: Each and every customer needs to verbally be told about Casaa, and handed a Casaa.org card.
It is amazing how even vested vapers have never heard about Casaa, or even know about the threats of the FDA. For web customers these store can send email campaigns.
SKVW: The current state of e-cigarette industry groups and lobbying is fragmented at best, what’s your take on the situation?
RM: I am unsure about the details (financial) of Casaa.org. We had the August 8 deadline for us to bark at the FDA. Casaa should have spent serious time (and funds) on notifying everyone of this. Paid advertising, billboards and more. VaporAlley is a Casaa member and has contributed their share, I don’t feel our funds are spent enough on notifying vapers. (and this is from asking our customers if they have heard of Casaa. I can say that 60% have not)
VaporAlley also got involved with FreeToVape.org, and went to drop off 40K public submissions at the FDA on August 8th.
40,000 collected in 4 months was great, but FreeToVape got a lot of attention (both positive and negative) and should have been started 2 years ago.
I am guessing 1/2 millions submission would have been collected.
FreeToVape was a fantastic idea. Documents where printed and hand delivered to the FDA (which they must document and add to their submissions).
10’s of thousands of documents where faxed to representatives and senators, all in only 3-4 months.
I feel CASAA should have been more aggressive and need to look closely at what FreeToVape did. We ALL need to be much more aggressive NOW.
At this point it is to late (as far as FDA regulations go) for each state to have their own lobbyist campaigns, and these are tough to organize, but that is still what we need.
I am speaking with Brent (from FreeToVape) about turning the site into more of a “movement” and hope to see it setup to organize a “March on Congress” in April/May. I would like to see Casaa get involved with FreeToVape to help organize this. If we are not more aggressive we WILL lose this fight.
SKVW: What can consumers do to ensure they always have availability for their favorite products?
RM: Get more involved, NOW! Read the answer to #8. At minimum, join Casaa.org and FreeToVape.org.
The other answer to that would be to stock up on supplies, as our situation does not look good.
SKVW: What’s your favorite vaping hardware and e-liquid?
RM: Well…that changes often, but currently vaping on a Patriot V1.2, build with 22G dual coils at .07 ohms, screwed only a Cartell with an 18500 eFest (purple) batt.
In front of me I have the Five Pawns Queenside, the Totally Vaped out Blue Monday and the Sweet Tooth Luscious ejuices, in zero and 3mg.