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Quitting smoking is business opportunity for shop owner
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Photo: John Greenwood/jgreenwood@qconline.com
Todd Smith opened his first electronic cigarette store on July 7 and now has three stores in Iowa and Illinois. He has various units and 29 flavors of juice on display at The Vaporosity Shop, located at 3127 Brady St., Suite 2.
DAVENPORT — Todd Smith has spent his entire working life in sales. When he quit smoking cigarettes with the help of an electronic cigarette, he saw the device as a business opportunity he couldn't pass up.

Mr. Smith, owner of the Vaporosity Shop stores in Davenport, Rock Island and Aledo, sold commercial doors and hardware at American Industrial Door for five years before he opened his first Vaporosity Shop in July at 3127 N. Brady St. in Davenport.

After five months of simultaneously running his new business and selling doors, Mr. Smith decided he needed to quit his sales job and focus on his new business.

"I loved my job before. I loved working with people," Mr. Smith, a Rock Island native, said. "But here, I found people would come in and give me their story: 'I haven't smoked in a week, I haven't smoked in two weeks. I haven't smoked in a month since you got me started.' And that was the same story I had."

E-cigarettes heat up liquid nicotine, creating a vapor that users inhale. Because what users exhale isn't smoke, many smoking ban laws don't apply to e-cigarettes.

Advocates for the device say it's a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because it lacks the smoke and many toxic chemicals of traditional cigarettes. The FDA, which does not consider e-cigarettes smoking cessation devices, is expected to release a report on e-cigarettes soon.

Mr. Smith, 42, said his goal is to turn people from smoking and cigarettes to vaping and electronic cigarettes. Introducing them to the potential benefits of e-cigarettes makes running the first business he's ever owned that much more rewarding.

"It's the minor American Dream," he said. "I mean, it is the American Dream."

There were risks involved in opening his business, but Mr. Smith said he had the support of his family, and he made sure to have a backup plan in case his business wasn't a success.

"Starting my own business, it was scary. But it was 100 percent well worth it," he said. "My bills are paid, but I've got to tighten up the old strings a little bit though. I can't spend as much as I used to."

The decision to quit his job at American Industrial Door was difficult, Mr. Smith said, but to service e-cigarette customers, he needed to be open longer than three hours per night. He has expanded his hours from 5 to 8 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

The first day he opened at 11 a.m., he began to worry quitting his sales job was a mistake.

"The first day I was here at 11 a.m. I didn't have a customer until noon. So, between 11 and 12, I was on monster.com, I was on qconline.com. I was like, 'Uh-oh, I better look for a job. I just quit my job. Let's see what happens,'" Mr. Smith said.

"And that fear came in. But all of the sudden, customers started coming in and spread out my day, and now, I'm busy all the time."

At the end of the day, Mr. Smith said if he can pay his bills and live comfortably, he will continue to love what he does.

"I'm a lucky guy," he said. "I don't need a big, fancy car. I don't need a $10,000 watch. I'm fine with what I have. As long as I'm helping people out, I'm OK with that."







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  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






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