Halo Retailer Spotlight: Knoxville Vapor of Knoxville, TN
Bill and Terri Livezey started their vaping business in a 10’ x 10’ flea market booth. Today they own two brick-and-mortar Knoxville Vapor stores. The one thing that has remained consistent throughout is Halo …
Halo: How long have you been in business?
Terri: Four years.
Halo: Where did your store name come from?
Terri: We moved to this area from Florida already vaping and started looking for vape shops here and couldn’t find one. I thought I might find something by googling “Knoxville” and “vapor” and I never found anything, because there was no vape shop here. When we were thinking of a name, (Knoxville Vapor) seemed to make the most sense, because if you’re looking for a vape shop in the area, those are the two words that you’re going to use.
Bill: We have probably helped a good 20 vape shops around our area get going. They were actually customers of ours first. I would always tell them, “If you’re from Newport, Tennessee, name your vapor shop ‘Newport Vapors.’” It kind of lets you own that town. Some of them have listened to me and some haven’t. (laughs)
Halo: Do you have more than one location?
Terri: We have two locations now. One is in Knoxville and one is in Pigeon Forge.
Halo: Why did you start selling vape products?
Bill: I smoked two packs a day for 20 years. I didn’t want anything to do with vaping. Terri and I were going on vacation out West, and once we got out there it was going to be all rental cars and hotels, which, of course, you can’t smoke in any of those. Terri saw a sign for e-cigs in Cape Coral (Florida) and decided to grab a couple of those for us. I was in awe. I think most vape shop owners that aren’t in it for the money, they’re very passionate about it, because they did the same thing I did.
Also, Terri and I were spending $320 a month on cigarettes. That’s a car payment. (Vaping is) way cheaper than smoking. It’s not even close.
Halo: What’s special about your store?
Bill: One of the main things that sets us apart, when you come into Knoxville Vapor, I don’t care what age you are, 18 to 110, is you are comfortable. When Terri walked into that shop in Cape Coral, she was very intimidated.
When people come to Knoxville Vapor, there’s not five or six big, tattooed, bearded cloud-blowers. It’s not that we have any problem with those people, it’s just not that kind of shop. It’s a shop where anybody walks in and can feel comfortable and welcome.
Terri: Those folks come in as well. A lot of them are our friends. Our team is not the type that sits and watches TV or talks on their phone. They’re very customer-centric. Our entire team. They’re wonderful.
Bill: We hear these stories from people all the time: “I went to So-and-So’s shop and they’re on their computers, looking at Facebook. The guy behind the counter acted like he was too busy because he was on his phone.” We don’t allow that. Our team wouldn’t do that anyway.
Terri: Also, we have not given up on the starter kits and the starter e-liquids, where a lot of shops just stop carrying that stuff.
Halo: What’s your customers’ favorite Halo flavor?
Bill: It’s not even close. SubZero and Tribeca sell like crazy.
Terri: SubZero is number one.
Bill: Even before you guys came out with the high VG, we still sold a ton of SubZero.
Halo: What’s the first/most common question customers ask you?
Terri: Usually people ask, “What do you have new?” We do get a lot of people asking about the regulations. We advocate heavily and support legislation through the Tennessee Smoke Free Association. Our customers are pretty well informed and tend to ask what updates we have.
Bill: Terri and I have been to Washington (D.C.) several times and spoken with our congressmen and, fortunately for us, folks in this area are pretty much on board with the Cole-Bishop Amendment and supporting vaping.
Halo: What does vaping mean to you?
Terri: I actually vape all day long. (laughs) We own a vape shop, so it’s right there in front of us all day. It’s just part of my daily routine.
Halo: What’s your favorite Halo flavor?
Terri: When I found Tribeca it was magical.
Bill: My favorite would probably be Midnight Apple. I love that stuff. SubZero was such a good strong menthol.
Halo: Do you think the public has misconceptions about vaping?
Bill: We have done a disgraceful job as an industry with public relations. I think the general populace of the United States looks at vaping like it’s the same as smoking or it’s in the same genre as headshops and that whole shadowy business. From day one, Terri and I have said, and we’ve taken some heat for this, that this industry needs some regulation. Period. Of course, not what we ended up getting. Some reasonable regulation. What I was hoping for, was once that happened, the general populace of the U.S. would say, “OK, the FDA has regulated this industry, so it must be OK.”
I have challenged local news to tell their editor, that I DARE them to come down here, don’t let me know you’re coming, just show up with your cameras and talk to every single customer who comes through the door for two hours. Ask customers, how do they feel. Nobody’s ever taken me up on it.
Halo: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Bill: We have been with Halo since day one. We opened in a 10’ x 10’ flea market booth. I think it speaks volumes to your business and work ethic and great customer service that we still carry it to this day. A lot of e-liquid companies have come and gone from our shop. You guys have been there solid for four years. Thank you for that. We really appreciate everything you guys do. You’re awesome.
Knoxville Vapor has two locations: Knoxville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Be sure to stop by and visit them whenever you’re in either town!
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