We’ve all heard the term “voting with your wallet,” but what exactly does that term mean?
If I were to teach my English as second language students this phrase I would break it down like this: To vote means to make a choice. It can be for political reasons like choosing a new leader or it can be for making an important decision. A wallet of course is what you carry money and credit cards in. Thus, to vote with your wallet means to make a choice with money.
But what kind of choice is that?
In the vaping industry it means being a customer to those companies that you support monetarily. It means buy products that you believe work, that e-juice that tastes good, etc. It could also mean going to that local vape shop and buying something from them to support their business. However, this is on a general scale. Let’s break it down a little bit more.
Brick and Mortars
The best way to vote with your wallet is supporting a brick and mortar shop. However, it’s not just any old brick and mortar. It needs to be a brick and mortar that’s managed right. It needs to be that shop in which they just don’t want you walking and then walking out like a VPX event. It’s a shop in which the workers are trained in all things vaping, especially on the equipment end of things. It’s a shop in which you’re not just there buying, but you’re also learning. If you’re a new vaper, you get an explanation on all that a beginning vaper should know: changing juice, cleaning, battery safety, and the right equipment to use and how to use it, etc. This is the vape shop that feels like Cheers where everyone knows your name. This is the vape shop that is active in the community when it comes to charity and advocacy. It’s the vape shop where it’s ok to hang out and you don’t feel pressure to buy anything.
If you encounter any vape shop like this, and you also know of some practices that make you feel uncomfortable and disagreeable, walk right out of there and don’t even buy a thing. There are stories of vape shops out there that have people working there who don’t know a thing about the product, yet they work there because of personal connections or it’s just a way for them to make money and not learn anything. Some vape shops have been known NOT to check IDs of the customers who walk into the doors, especially if the product is ONLY supposed to be sold to 18 and over. Some vape shop owners tend to cop an attitude, especially to female vapers. The assumption is that many females don’t anything about vaping and they’re only doing it to “look pretty.” Some have been known to price gouge their customers by selling their juice at $30 a bottle, $100 for a beginner’s set-up, and $10 just to wrap a coil for you. These are not the places you want to spend your money at, and more than likely down the road they probably won’t last anyway since these are the shops that seem to care more about making the quick dollar and then leaving.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of controversy coming out on companies and their practices with e-liquid including: labelling, clean environment, and pricing. Currently, the market is literally (and no pun intended) saturated with juice companies. Almost every month, if not every week, a juice company is coming out with their “latest and greatest line.” Even current companies have to come up with a new and unique flavor just to keep up with sales and the demand for juice. It also seems to be one of the easiest markets to get into, yet it’s still so complex and there’s so much to know on a cleanliness and safety level. There’s also overhead to consider as well as wholesaling to vape shops that add to the mix.
Within the last couple of months, labelling has become a huge issue among customers and activists alike in the vaping community. While the juice might taste good and the company/vendor stands behind their juice, how it’s being sold is another matter. At most trade shows and conventions, cartoony labels have been a stand-out and a target of much criticism. Why? Those labels look too much like candy and something that can attract kids (according to the ant-vapers). Some companies have labels that look and even sound all too similar to candy and food products such as Sour Patch Kids, Airheads, Pop Tarts, etc. Once again, it’s the attracting kid’s factor as well as a trademarking issue, and it just isn’t original work. A few of these companies have already received a cease and desist letter causing them to either fold or change their image and name totally. It’s sad that it has to take force like that to make a change to a company, but once again, if the vaper doesn’t like it, they won’t buy it.
Clean juice has and always will be a major concern with a vaper. The educated vaper will not only want to know how the juice is made, but they will want to know where and if it’s made using safe and sterilized equipment. When FDA regulations come down, this is one area that just might be scrutinized closely. Most companies have already been ahead of the curve and have either built a lab or made sure that their juice is tested for quality and cleanliness. Unfortunately, it also seems that the “made in an ISO-6 lab” has been used as a marketing term to sell more juice when in reality it could still be made in someone’s basement. Several big companies have already been called out (with much drama involved) as examples of bad practices in juice making, and haven’t really recovered since it happened.
The pricing of e-juice is also a big issue among vapers. It used to be that a 30ml bottle of juice was sold at $15-$20 a bottle. That price has since gone down with the average being at least $10-$12 a 30 ml bottle. What’s changed? Demand. The average shopper wants a bargain and if they can get it, they’ll buy it. Vapers are no exception. Vapers want to save money too sometimes to buy their own equipment.
Mods and Tanks
Safety is always a priority with vapers, especially when it comes to equipment. Before brick and mortars popped up like dandelions on a lawn, the best place to find a good mood and tank was via the Internet through YouTube reviews, forums, and links to recommended companies. Now the average vaper can go to the brick and mortar and buy direct without all the hassle of waiting for weeks and months for the product; having to send it back after they found a flaw and could not find a way to fix their equipment and wait, etc. But even when a customer goes into a shop, they still have to know what they are paying for and of course buyer beware.
The main rule for buying vaping gear is simple: buy at the level you are comfortable using. If you are not comfortable with a mechanical mod, don’t buy it or use it. If you do buy one, make sure the shop owner can teach you, or at least talk to someone who can give you the basics on making sure you know everything related to using the right battery, Ohm’s law, rebuilding, etc. Some brick and mortars will offer classes in this area for free and the owner will be happy to teach and assist you.
As with the e-juice, pricing is also a factor. The average mod goes between $40 - $100. Any price higher than that and it becomes price gouging. Tanks are the same, but with the average price between $15-$40. It all depends on the comfort and safety level of the user.
So, now that you know the break-down. The question is: How are you going to vote with your wallet? Do you already have an established company and brick and mortar you like? Support them. Still looking for one? Do your research.
The more you vote with your wallet, the more that those companies who deserve your money will survive and stay around in the industry for a long time.
Any questions on vaping? Want to read vaping article topics? Surf on over to Vape Ranger where you can articles from myself and other like-minded vapers on all things vape-related. You can also contact me for writing ideas, opinions, etc. at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.