Black Tie Vapour: Dapper vape shop offers top-notch service

Black Tie Vapour: Dapper vape shop offers top-notch service

Tania Moffat

Nestled in an innocuous strip mall sits Black Tie Vapour, one of the burgeoning new businesses that caters to all things vape. Vaping is the use of an electronic device to heat “juice” with a battery, which allows people to inhale the vapours it produces. Vaping is a business that lies in the grey area of retail. Two years ago vape sales were prohibited in Canada and while Health Canada hasn’t changed its message for the public to avoid them, it seems that there now is a new vape shop on every street corner. Last year Christopher Britton decided to open up his own vape store, but on his own terms.

 

Christopher Britton, owner of Black Tie Vapours.
Christopher Britton, owner of Black Tie Vapours.Black Tie Vapour is a cozy little spot where customers are greeted by a friendly face and a laid back speak easy style. Antique furniture adorns the room, with a chandelier and Edison bulbs providing relaxed lighting. Regulars will find Christopher standing behind his large wooden bar. He is always dressed the part in a suit and tie, occasionally taking a puff from his pipe vape. Customers of all ages walk in with a smile and greet him by name as they chat and make their purchases. Some saddle up to the bar and peruse his menu of juice flavours, while others take a seat on the couch as they wait their turn to make a purchase or just catch up with Chris.Customer service is the backbone of any business; Christopher knows this first-hand because he was brought up that way. His family owned a bowling alley and restaurant in Brandon, something he though the would take over one day. “When we closed it, I thought, ‘Okay, now what?’ I knew I would open my own business but I wasn’t sure what it would be,” he says.

Christopher was a pipe smoker and enjoyed the atmosphere and service he received whenever he stopped in at Thomas Hines. He had an interest in vaping, saw an opportunity in the industry and opened his shop last September. In contrast to the atmosphere at Thomas Hines, the majority of vape stores seem to accost customers with a plethora of juices, vaporizers and

accessories in a variety of display cases as soon as they walk in the door. “I wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere where people could walk in without feeling overwhelmed and offer them the customer service that I often found lacking in businesses,” says Christopher.

His previous retail experience, garnered from working with high-end shops like Tiffany’s and lulu lemon reinforced the importance of branding, providing a quality product and great service. “Branding was really important to me,” he explains as he shows his house juice brands in their retro black, red and gold labels. “Having a house line of juices provides my customer with consistency in both flavours and quality. ”Instead of bags, customers will find their purchases neatly tucked away into swanky, branded, black boxes.

“It’s all the little things that make a difference,” he says and it must be true; the business has grown purely on word-of-mouth.

“For myself, personally, I knew I felt better vaping than when I smoked. The majority of my customers are looking to quit smoking, but a small per cent likethe flavours and vape for enjoyment or to stop evening snacking. For most, it is a mitigation of risk. Within the last year, I have seen clients quit smoking and then stop vaping. Others continue vaping, using either no nicotine or a low level as a preventative measure to stop themselves from going back to smoking,” explains Chris.

In Manitoba, stores can display the juices, which are made up of two ingredients: propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Customers are able to purchase a wide variety of juice flavours that are created using natural or artificial food-safe flavourings. Rather than display his flavours, Chris has them listed in a menu, with a tray for customers to sample from.

“Vaping has become more mainstream, and there are a variety of devices and flavour combinations available with varying levels of nicotine. With so many options, customers need that one-on-one care. There is no one-size-fits-all or set-formula that will help people quit, but that’s where I can offer information to assist them in selecting a method that will best help them meet their needs,” he says. At the end of the day, Chris is working his dream job. He has a great store with faithful customers whom he is able to assist in kicking a horrible habit by doing something that is enjoyed, and he gets to dress up in a suit and tie.

Black Tie Vapour’s top five flavours:

Tropical paradise

Blackberry twist

Ultimate Canadian tobacco

Watermelon

Melon berry bubble-gum

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