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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 Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.




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