Opening a Vape Shop in Pennsylvania

Opening a Vape Shop in Pennsylvania

Are you thinking about opening a vape shop in Pennsylvania? Making sure your shop or vape lounge is successful goes beyond the mechanics of launching.

You may have the perfect location, the latest devices, ejuices and other inventory proudly displayed in the front window for all to see.

You’ve hired some former smokers and current vapers to help your new customers.

In fact, you can have everything in place to open the doors and still get it wrong.

I’ve been interviewing successful vape shop owners to get a better understanding of what makes them successful. Because if you’re opening a vape shop, you don’t want to go bankrupt in just a few months and close the doors.

First, let’s go behind the scenes with Vapor Lounge, which happens to be my go-to vape shop for e-liquids and accessories, and Ian Galiyano, manager of their Temple, PA location.

Vapor Lounge launched their first shop back in 2011 and opened a second shop in 2014. About 100 vape shops closed their doors after Pennsylvania initiated their 40% tax on floor inventory, and Vapor Lounge got a lot of their customers.

opening a vape shop vapor lounge

What makes them a successful vape shop? As Ian explains below, knowing the law, knowing the rules and above all, knowing their customers.

Know the Tax Laws in Your State Before Opening a Vape Shop

Pennsylvania is probably one of the hardest hit states when it comes to taxes on vape shops. If you’re thinking about opening a vape shop in PA, you might want to think twice, unless you have a lot of working capital.

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Yes, PA initiated what many vape shop owners call “Mafia practices” – a 40% wholesale tax on inventory. Once that horrendous tax went into law, more than 110 vape shops closed their doors.

Vape shop owners in Pennsylvania, those that are still open anyway, are aggressively fighting this tax law. But Ian cautions:

“For new stores, make sure you pay the state taxes for these products even if you think you can get away with not. The IRS and the state of Pennsylvania can take up to 30 years of back taxes before they forfeit the right to sue you for tax evasion.

“We’re aggressive against the 40% tax our state has and believe it should be exchanged for a new legislation so that our shop and others can prosper again.”


Fortunately for Vapor Lounge, their owners and managers are aggressive at keeping informed on the laws in Pennsylvania and planned accordingly for when the new law went into effect.

They were even able to open a second shop after the new tax law went into effect.

Know the FDA Rules for Vape Shops

The FDA, in their infinite wisdom, decided that vape shops couldn’t help their customers with the many devices that are on the market. Brilliant, wouldn’t you say?

Imagine going to car dealer and the salesperson can’t tell you anything about the vehicles. You’re expected to buy the car just by looking at it.

“Originally the FDA really didn’t let anyone know what was and wasn’t ok with helping a customer with their devices after purchase. Now they have said that assembly and maintenance is allowed to be handled by shop employees as long as there are no aftermarket modifications to any of the units.”
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The FDA relaxed those rules a little so that now vape shop employees can take device apart and put it back together to at least show you how it works.

“If we as a community don’t follow the rules, it only gives the state more reason to give the community a bad representation and push for even more restrictive laws and possibly banning the vaporizers.”


Know Your Customers

In any business, knowing who your customers are and what they want is critical to building a successful business.

However, it’s even more crucial when opening a vape shop and keeping it open. You want to build a loyal customer base and repeat sales, especially when you have to pay those “Mafia tactics” 40% wholesale tax on your inventory.

Who is your typical customer? How old are they? What are they looking for? These are key questions that require a bit of research before opening a vape shop.

“Most customers looking to vape are previous tobacco users; however, we have started to see an increase in hookah users also seeking the benefits of vaping as well as cigar smokers. The average new customer is between 25-40 years of age.”


A bigger and more expensive vape device is not always the answer. Getting that wrong could quickly lose you customers.

“You want to know how much they are willing to spend and whether or not they believe vaping will help them quit. If a customer purchases the biggest best kit and has trouble quitting after you say that the kit will 100% help them quit they will for sure come back angry and often leave and go to another vape store in search of some one else to help them since you have lost their trust.”
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Know your products well enough to help your customers make a choice.

“Most new vape customers know little to nothing about these products and sadly so do some of the shop owners. I have a large volume of customers that seek out our locations specifically, even driving 30+ minutes away from their normal home range just to get help since none of the shops around them have an answer for them.”


In Pennsylvania, there is a lot more to opening a vape shop than stocking the shelves, hiring employees and opening the doors.

For more information on the laws and how you can help fight Big Government, head over to the American Vaping Association and get involved!

If you’re in Berks County and you’re looking for a new vape shop, give Vapor Lounge a try! You’ll be glad you did! Visit Vapor Lounge on Facebook for more information.

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