There's a smoking hot new business opening in downtown Fairfield — one the owners say is the first of its kind in Connecticut.
And one that is diving into a red hot industry that has been somewhat clouded in controversy, as government attempts to regulate it: e-cigarettes.
The new business, Sovereign Vapors, is a luxury lounge selling e-cigarette products from its second-story loft space at 1981 Post Road in Fairfield, Conn.
But there's more than just e-cigarette products inside this space, which boasts vaulted ceilings, large oversized windows, exposed brick, reclaimed barnwood, distressed café tables with raw gunmetal accents, a lounge area and a marble "Vapor" tasting bar. You can score free Wi-Fi at Sovereign Vapors, too.
“Our mission is to expose smokers to a cleaner alternative to the cigarette and cultivate and educate those new to vaping into sophisticated vapors taking the experience away from gas stations, convenient store and conventional storefronts into a mature lifestyle experience,” says co-owner Anthony Holdampf.
A Fairfield resident, Holdampf was co-founder of Freestyle Fitness in Westport and Greenwich Gold buyers in Greenwich and Trumbull.
Along with his business partner Marcos Garcia of Jersey City, the two entrepreneurs are looking to break into a billion dollar growth market, but in a unique way.
“We approach our lines of vapor liquid similar to that of a wine tasting bar or micro brewery," Garcia says. "We’ve cultivated our line of liquids by sampling thousands of flavors from hundreds of companies from around the country. We’ve chosen our liquids based on the quality of the ingredients, the complexity of the flavor profile, and those companies using only the highest manufacturing standards."
"We’re looking for something that can entertain the pallet for hours," he adds. "One example, is Castle Long by Five Pawns, a company out of California. It’s a combination of the dark, refined spirit of Kentucky Bourbon, accented with toasted coconut, roasted almond, Madagascar vanilla bean and laced with a caramelized brown sugar.”
Sovereign Vapors will carry a large selection of liquids and hardware, both for the beginner and advanced "Vaper." The company says hardware, or Nicotine delivery devices, range from $25 to $375, and that the liquids — nearly 50 flavors — range from $8 for 10ml to $28 for 30ml. The liquids come in varying nicotine strengths, from 0 to 18 mg.
According to Holdampf, e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices generated nearly $2 billion in sales in 2013. Citi Bank projected sales to reach $3 billion by 2015, while Wells Fargo expects sales to top $10 billion by 2017, he says.
Bloomberg industries has even projected that e-cigs could eventually take over the market, possibly making more sales than tobacco cigarettes by as early as 2023. Meanwhile, the increasing popularity of the product has prompted proposals at the state and federal level to regulate the industry.
Sovereign Vapors is hosting their grand opening on May 10, with specials all day and music from 8 p.m. to midnight. There's a good chance that music may come grom Garcia himself, as he is an accomplished musician, both as a soloist and vocalist for the popular Afrobeat band Antibalas.
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