Sitting in Henderson Vapor, a new shop in the Water Street District, owner Todd Sanford took a puff of his electronic cigarette as he pulled out his iPhone to check the mobile application My Last Cigarette.
“It’s been two years, 146 days, five hours and 28 minutes since my last cigarette,” he said on June 27. “And honestly, I haven’t even craved one since then.”
Ever since he found vapor smoke, an electronic version of cigarettes, Sanford, who smoked for 20 years, has been able to quit.
His discovery also led him to open Henderson Vapor, 115 S. Water St., in February. The shop sells supplies for electronic cigarettes.
“It wasn’t my goal to open a shop,” he said. “It just happened.”
Sanford and his wife tried “vaping” on a whim about three years ago. He had tried other e-cigarettes.
“They weren’t very satisfying,” he said.
But there was something different about this new device. When he used it, the device gave him a similar feeling to smoking.
“So I went all ‘Rain Man’ on it trying to investigate more about the product,” he said. “It’s a safer alternative to cigarettes.”
Sanford said what makes it safer is that it lacks the carcinogens that regular cigarettes have.
Along with being safer, he and his wife also enjoyed being able to walk through a park or even use it at restaurants and movie theaters if they want.
“At first people give us looks,” he said. “Then they realize it’s not a cigarette. It’s vapor.”
More and more of his friends kept asking about the device. Finally, he realized there was a market to open up a business.
“We knew we wanted it to be in Henderson,” he said. “We also knew we wanted it to be in the Water Street area.”
When he opened the space in January, Sanford decided to put down roots.
“It was perfect being next to the coffee shop,” he said referring to The Coffee House. “They have an open mic night, so it’s a good way to create synergy between the two businesses.”
Doing more research, Sanford found he could create flavors.
He began experimenting with chocolate, vanilla and other concoctions.
“All our juices are made in-house,” he said.
The company has created more than 50 flavors.
“But then we have customers come up with their own creations,” he said.
Some of the more popular selections include a cinnamon roll flavor or mixture of watermelon and bubble gum.
“We have pastry-type flavors like cheesecake or Key lime pie,” he said. “We have all the berry-type flavors.”
People come in from around town to pick up purchases, he added.
“We get rushes throughout the day,” he said.
It was during one such rush that the business found future employee Brandon Blohm.“We got a mob of people, so I told him to get behind the counter,” Sanford said.
Blohm, 23, had been smoking for years.
“I was smoking a pack every eight hours, and I knew I needed to stop,” he said.
After several unsuccessful attempts to quit — first with a patch, then with gum — he decided to try vapor smoke.
He has never looked back, he said.
Turning over a new leaf, Blohm would swing by Henderson Vapor regularly to pick up new items.
His flavor of choice: blue lemonade.
“I was the customer that would help other customers out,” he said. “Three months later, they told me I should start helping on the other side of the counter.”
Blohm said it’s been more than seven months since his last cigarette.
“And the smell of (cigarettes) makes me sick now,” he said.
Sanford is still in the process of transforming the shop into a Vapor cafe.
The shop is operational, but he wants it to become a video game and Internet cafe with musicians and artists.
“We don’t want to sell alcohol because we don’t want to run off young kids,” he said.
In the meantime, people 18 or older can buy various supplies from assorted flavors to new devices.
“We haven’t done any advertising, but we keep getting tons of people coming in,” he said. “People get excited when they find an alternative to smoking. They can’t help but share so they tell five people who go out and tell five more people.”
For more information, visit hendersonvapor.com.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.