Bricks, Mortar, Heart and Soul: The Ecig Flavourium
Name of Business: Ecig Flavourium
Name of Owner: Maria Papaioannoy-Duic
Neighbourhood: The Beaches
Store Address: 2383 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E 1H5
Tell us about your shop!
The Ecig Flavourium is one of Canada's first brick and mortar vape shops. Our goal is to help smokers stop smoking through the use of vapour products. We have three locations look forward to growing our business over the next few years.
How long have you been here? What had you get started in this business?
My husband and I opened The Ecig Flavourium in 2013. We actually opened up with 100 square feet inside a women's clothing store in the Toronto Beaches area. We'd both stopped smoking thanks to e-cigarettes in 2010, and we had so many people asking us to "hook them up" that we decided to open a small shop.
In the beginning, we stuck by our corporate jobs, but made the shop work around our regular hours. We were open Monday-Friday 4pm-8pm and weekends from 11-6pm. Within three months, our demand had grown so much that we moved to our own shop around the corner, expanded our hours, and the rest is history!
Before this business, did you have experience that prepared you for running a brick and mortar shop?
OMG! No experience whatsoever, unless you count the hours I worked the floor at Jean Machine in 1987! We went into this adventure not thinking about it as a business, but a place to help people stop smoking. We didn't know it would become what it has. I believe that doing something you believe in is 90% of the effort. The other 10% comes from hard work.
Tell us about the kind of people who frequent your shop!
Our customers are innovative quitters! Most people that come through our doors have spent the majority of their lives trying to stop smoking. They have used traditional methods and not-so -conventional methods to stop. Their want and need to quit smoking is what truly drives them to us.
Smoking is the last form of addiction that we still allow people to be shamed for. At The Ecig Flavorium, we create a safe, judgment-free environment and let our clients take the lead and tell us what they need to remove combustible cigarettes from their lives for good.
What's one thing you are super proud of in your business?
I think it goes without saying: the success of our customers in maintaining a smoke-free life! The mom who now runs marathons because she stopped smoking through vaping. The 70-year-old great grandmother that has more energy to spend with her family. The 35-year-old sales rep that has more confidence in business meetings because he doesn't smell like smoke. The Ecig Flavourium is part of their stories, and it makes me damn proud that we can help change peoples lives!
What kind of personal growth have you experienced in running this kind of business? What new skills have you taken on or fears have you overcome?
The biggest skill I've learned is activism and advocacy. I didn't think I would have ended up learning how the legislative and regulatory process of selling vapour products works.
My biggest fear is that governments will regulate vaping out of existence and all those people that are not ready to stop smoking won't have vaping as an option. Those that do vape may go back to smoking. That fear keeps me going every single day. Seriously, if you asked me 6 years ago when we opened the store, what I think I'd be doing now, it wouldn't have been organizing protests, writing 20-page submissions to Health Canada and trying to come up with new ways to activate an entire country to fight for fair regulations. But that's where this business has taken me, and I would not change a thing. We do what we do for our customers.
What is the future for you and your business? Do you hope to expand your products or services? Open more locations? Tell us all about it!
The future looks good! Our goal right now (and hopefully it's launched by the time this piece comes out) is to enter the e-commerce world. Most people in our industry started online and then moved to the B&M world. We just wanted to meet the customers we helped and were never really interested in expanding that way. We're always looking to expand our locations. My big dream project is to create a talk for teens about vaping. We don't want kids using vapour products. We believe that they're solely a tool to help smokers make the switch. It's essential that as a business, we find a way to get that message out!
Brick-and-mortar businesses are what makes a city unique. They make communities lively and fun, and they give people a reason to come out of their homes to mingle and connect. Being a retailer since 1998, I also know very well the risks and rewards of owning this type of business. ⠀ This blog series is to feature brick and mortar businesses in 4 of my favourite communities in Toronto:⠀ - Kensington Market⠀ - Roncesvalles Village⠀ - The Beaches⠀ - Dundas West⠀ Are YOU a store owner with heart and soul? Let me feature you and your business on my blog and social media! Here are the easy steps:⠀ 1) Fill out the form in my Brick, Mortar, Heart and Soul blog feature via my website.⠀ 2) Send 5-6 great pictures of your store, your products and YOU in your store to firstname.lastname@example.org.⠀ Then we'll be in touch!⠀ ⭐️ Priority will be given to submissions with great stories and lovely photos, and we'll be publishing one a week. ⭐️⠀ Thanks so much! I look forward to finding out about your awesome shop!⠀