Thinking about starting a vape shop, anybody attempted this?

I’m thinking about opening a vape shop in the town I live in and was wondering if anyone on here has experience with that. I want to have an online store as well as a B and M storefront. I want to know about good vendors to buy in bulk, is it best to do business directly with the manufacturer or are there better wholesale vendors? Also what kind of guidelines are there for in-house juice? I know Im asking a lot but any wisdom imparted would be greatly appreciated.


I have the same questions I too would love to open up my own vape shop


I’m in the US Kansas, there are several vape shops in the cities around me but I want to do things a little different from what I’ve seen done.


I was just watching a video of a pod cast that diy or die just did. One of his gust was Pretty Mathew of Charlie Nobel e-juice. He was explaining the recent visit they had at there lab and store front by the FDA. He also touched base on the cost of setting up to get into making juice. It takes big money to comply with the FDA regulations now, that are just starting to be enforced.

Two points he made that I remember him saying was 300,000 dollars or so to set up for making commercial juice and no traditional lending institutions will lend money for setting up vape related business because of the volatile nature of the FDA regulations.

It is a very long video and I do not remember what time stamp they went into this at but it was in the first half of the video.

Here is the video if you want to watch it.

He is a member here but not sure he would have the time or even want to reply but anything is possible. @prettymatthew could you possibly be any help on this.


Yep, I’m here.

That’s a rough estimate to get a pre-fab clean room, order supplies, labels, bottles, boxes, etc.

Last time I priced it out, a really nice modular clean room was $150-200k. Still need a commercial space to put it up in, along with all the required business and manufacturing/sales/tax permits depending on your state.

The issue is that you can’t legally release any new products that weren’t on the market prior to 8/8/16. That’s the big reason why you can’t start a new liquid brand/manufacturing facility in the US. You can totally start a vape shop, retail, wholesale, or distro, since you’re just selling pre-existing products. The problem is going to be finding a bank or credit union to loan you start up money. They have professionals that study the markets, to make sure they’re not lending money on bad investments. Not to say that you in particular would be a bad investment, but that the vape industry is in such a questionable place right now, they probably won’t be willing to gamble on you. I do know some people that have been able to obtain loans, but usually only for expansions. They already have 2 or 3 profitable shops, and have banked with the institution for years, and were able to get the money to open a new location, or do a totally remodel/expansion to their current shop.

And I’m not here to discourage anyone, but I want to make sure people are educated and make smart decisions. 3 or 4 years ago, you had to work to lose money with a vape shop. Now, I see far more new ventures fail than succeed.



I’m in a bit of a unique situation because the city I live in still has the legal age to purchase nicotine products at 18 and all the cities around me have raised the legal age to 21. So people 18-20 come to my town to buy their vapes. I could get started without house juice for sure. I can build my own clean room when that time comes. But I’m really interested in who to go to for wholesale mods and atomizers. Is there good all around vendors or is it better to do business directly with the manufacturers?


Thanks for taking the time to help educate me on some of these issues I really appreciate the information you share. I know I can get a profitable thing going here just by the amount of product I will be able to sell.


Just hit the distros to start. They have either no MOQ or very low, and the product is already in the US and ready to ship. You’ll need a business license and a sales & use tax license from your state/city to open an account.

Once you get it moving, and are making some money, and can predict what people are going to want to buy, then holler at the manufacturers. They operate via wire transfers, and usually decent sized MOQs. Some maintain a US warehouse for fulfillment, others ship via DHL.

Additional point to remember - the FDA is beginning to inspect hardware imported into the US. I expect to see some stories of shipments being seized in the next few weeks/months. All the same rules on e-liquid are applicable to hardware, i.e. no new products after 8/816. I have no idea if Smok/Kanger/Voopoo/whoever pre-registered these new tanks, coils, squonk rdas, and mods that are being released every day. Hence my suggestion to stay with the US warehouse hardware distros. Let them take the potential hit on illegal hardware, you can just buy what already passed customs.



Remember that this is just my personal experience and you should in no way base a business plan solely off of anything I say.

[I feel like I should probably say that, lol.]

And no problem, as many issues as the industry has, I love talking about vaping.



Hell yeah, I really want to help people quit smoking and live healthier lives. I’m doing due diligence before I get this thing going and I’m hooked up with some politicians in my city so I’m getting the scoop on all that too. What are MOQs? And who’s the good distros to deal with?


MOQ’s means Minimum order quantity not sure about distributors.

EDIT: @Awakenow2 Got to thinking about it more. A few years ago I would help folks wanting to taste juice at a local vape shop when the owners got busy. Several times I saw them ordering hardware from fast tech and gear best.

Recently one of the owners at a new vape shop in our area that has other locations in a different state told me they were in the process of setting up a distribution center for e-juice on the east coast. I will let you know when and if I find out more.

For juice you can try looking up molecule labs also. If I am not mistaken they not only make a lot of companies juice but they also handle distribution.


Thank you @wvsanta I have ordered some personal vape stuff from fastech and their prices are great, I wonder if they have a US warehouse yet. I’m going to check into that. I’ll check out gear best too. Going look into a tax id and talk with a buddy of mine who’s a cpa. I’m thinking my goal is to offer online prices in store.


Don’t you think you should have a bit of commercial insight before starting a shop? At the end of the day, you have to pay your bills and make some profit as well.
You can only offer really low prices if you sell in very large quantities. Otherwise I’m not sure your store is going to exist a very long time… you have to be a little realistic in your goals.


I hear you, I know I’ll have to be a little higher than most online prices but people come back when they feel they’ve been treated right


I have noticed that the few stores that really thrive near me are both B & M and online. So if that’s what you are doing, that’s a good first step I think.
One, as they grew, I saw struggle with fulfilling online orders as they served walk in customers. They were at a point where they couldn’t really hire employees and often worked late at night to catch up.

I used to manage a company and we bought millions in products per year. We were big enough that most manufacturers would sell direct to us, which saved a huge wholesale markup. Don’t be afraid to shop around and don’t get locked into any single distributor. Sometimes we could even bounce around between different branches of the same wholesaler and get better prices.

A store near me is locked into a single distributor because the owner is friends with him. That’s great except the distributor sucks and often can’t deliver common items like batteries and popular coils.Puts a lot of strain on the manager and staff always telling customers they are out of stock.

Hopefully you are outgoing and a people person and can get out sometimes. I made so many deals, contacts and friends at trade shows and conventions, that it was a huge benefit in the long run. Sometimes the sales rep just starting out, will become the global sales manager, and if they remember a good conversation with you, it works out great.

It seems like you are doing a lot of research. I wish you the best and really hope you succeed!


I completely understand where you’re coming from. Everybody feels ripped off when they buy something in a shop and then look online and see they can get it for half or a third of the price…
But you really have to crunch your numbers. Everybody wants to attract large crowds because they can buy something cheap. It’s not easy…

I advise you to subscribe to a mailing list from a distributor… see what prices you can get your stuff for. Then calculate what you have to sell to pay rent, utilities, taxes and most certainly don’t forget to include your own salary, some marketing, if you’re dealing with large sales quantities also the salaries of your employees, bookkeeper, lawyers, …

It’s not all as easy as you think.

That being said, I don’t even think that these super low prices are what people are looking for. Most people are happy to support the local economy. They do want to pay fair prices but that doesn’t mean bottom low prices. What they want is a little extra service, some attention, knowledge and good advice from staff, a good selection in quality products that are up to date, a nice environment to shop in, …

One thing is the most important though, that you make enough money to stay in business and preferably a little more. Your shop is first and foremost your source of income. If you don’t have income, you’ll be stressing out over finances and don’t have room in your head to spend attention to your customers.


You could do your online store on Shopify as they also offer POS integration so your store sales/inventory (and online sales!) are tracked via Shopify. Employee terminals are just Internet connected PCs/Tablets etc …even phones.

To find Vendors just attend the next VapeCon :wink:


What about an online store to test the waters first, possibly combined with a bi weekly vape club. It turns out that the brick and mortar costs a fortune to maintain.

This won’t save you the regulatory compliance costs though.