Are Vape Cafes The Next Hookah Lounges? Smoke Shop Owners Take Note Of This Major Trend
Vape takes the cake with the next generation of smokers. With a market valuation of $2.5 billion according to MarketWatch, the vaporizer industry overall is bursting with opportunities for retail entrepreneurs to stake claims in this niche market. One such retail marketplace, largely unexplored in the U.S. as of yet, is that of the vape cafe.
General “cafes,” from smoke to drink, are internationally recognized communal bastions of political and social discourse with the added element of relaxation. Smoke cafes, historically, have had a bit of a separatist slant, having been categorized as everything from opium dens to exclusive gentleman’s cigar clubs.
What the hookah café and lounge succeeded in accomplishing in the United States is the desegregation of smokers and non-smokers during the act of smoking itself. For the first time, customers who chose to forgo tobacco inhalation could enjoy the art of imbibing flavored smoke in lieu of tobacco in the same space as other patrons. Due to the rolling nationwide bans on indoor smoking in service establishments, most traditional hookah lounges have nixed the use of tobacco altogether.
The fight for the hookah lounge to remain a fixture in certain communities continues its struggle as North American officials juggle the dichotomy of the increased criminalization of indoor tobacco smoking alongside the slow decriminalization of marijuana possession. With laws and opinions regarding smoke in flux, now is a great time for investors to examine the launch of a new generation of hookah cafe and lounge — one that utilizes and sells vaporizers.
Traditional hookah lounges have received a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Now is a great time for investors to pivot that model to capitalize on the vaporizer. Here are some tips for starting the discovery process of launching your very own vape café or lounge.
1. Check the Laws
Although your shop may be in compliance with your city’s anti-tobacco ordinances, there may be bylaws that further prohibit the use of general smoke inhalation instruments by patrons. Make sure to sift through your local laws with a fine-toothed comb.
IN THE NEWS: A hookah shop owner is currently on a hunger strike due to a crackdown with city officials over the sale of hookah.
2. Work with Distributors
Just as hookah offers different pipes and flavors for clientele, so should a successful vape café. Work with distributors and the right suppliers to sample and sell new products amongst patrons to establish a more lucrative relationship prior to the expansion of your business.
3. Diversify Your Offerings for Various Clientele
It’s a café, after all! For those patrons who don’t smoke, offer coffee, tea, wine, pastries, merchandise, and other items to help offset your bottom line. (Check your local laws before selling certain products jointly. Some municipalities ban alcohol, smoke, and merchandise sales under a single establishment.) Don’t forget to factor in free wi-fi service to keep all of your customers happy.
4. Start Small
Although the vape has a monstrous market share that isn’t slated to cool down anytime soon, it’s safe to start small, especially in a nascent industry. Instead of investing in a showroom type rental for your first space, base your business model on a tried-and-true coffee shop or lounge format and work from there. Your customers may be pleasantly surprised by the smoke inside.