Much about electronic cigarettes remains unknown. Their effects on health are debatable, though the University of California took no chances by banning them, along with traditional cigarettes, from campuses effective this year.
But one thing that’s certain is that they’re becoming a booming business. Several local shops have added electronic cigarette rigs, in which the user inhales and exhales vapor rather than smoke, to their inventory. And other businesses specializing solely in “vaping,” as it is called, have sprung up around the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Ashley Davies saw an opportunity, and jumped on it.
Davies last year opened three e-cigarette stores in Stockton. This month, she opened her first outlet in Modesto, at 700 McHenry Ave. It’s just up the street from another vapor store. Though some experts have expressed concerns that electronic cigarettes might attract younger people who shy away from smoking, Davies said that’s not her customer base. She is aiming at current smokers looking to stop. And she’s only interested in regular tobacco smokers.
“The misconception is that we sell head-shop products,” she said. “We don’t. We wanted our business to be a place where a soccer mom with three kids would feel comfortable.”
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Davies acknowledges there is conflicting scientific information on the relative health benefits and risks of electronic smoking. A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the devices might help some smokers quit, but more research is necessary and the long-term safety of e-cigarettes is unknown.
Davies, a former pack-a-day smoker, said she personally has seen benefits to switching from smoke to water – she’s recovered her sense of smell and lost her smoker’s cough, though she’s still ingesting nicotine. Still, she’s not unhappy to lose a customer if someone manages to drop down in nicotine levels to zero, and then stop completely. That’s already happened, she said.
“There are so many smokers out there we haven’t even touched yet,” she said.
The name of her stores – Just the Tip Vapors – started out as joke. But the more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea. It’s memorable, if a bit cheeky, and one of the pieces of the devices that can be customized to each client is the tip. And, given that she opened three Stockton stores within 29 days before expanding to Modesto and is already looking for new markets, “We feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Contact Just the Tip Vapors at (209) 342-9084.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat
Renee’s Day Spa, a longtime business and two-time winner in The Modesto Bee’s annual Readers’ Choice contest, has expanded. Owner Renee Matias said after 15 years in a 900-square-foot space, the spa was splitting at the seams.
“We sell a lot of day spa packages, but we really didn’t have a place for everything,” she said. Clients would find themselves sitting in an entryway between treatments, there were no pedicure stations, and lunch was served in a cramped room. With one small move – the new building is across the street from the old one – Renee’s more than quadrupled the space.
Now, clients can get the whole day spa experience, and there’s more ahead. Matias said she is looking to hire hairstylists.
“We have lots of room to grow,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”
Renee’s Day Spa is at 1245 McHenry Ave. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment. Call (209) 341-0551.