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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, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is said that the ferry company has cleared about $10,000 since the burning of the railroad bridge. Couldn't the company now afford to pay that little bill it owes the city?
1889 -- 125 years ago: The sum of $4 million in cash in addition to supplies of immense value were forwarded to Jamestown, Pa., from all parts of the country for relief of the sufferers from the great flood.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Board of Education secured a site for the New Central Grammar School by purchasing additional property south of Irving School for $3,400.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The total number of workers employed at the Farmall Works of International Harvester Co. has reached a peak of 5,300, the largest payroll in Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Army engineers testified today that the water levels of Lakes Huron and Michigan are at a 104-year low. The condition is causing a multi-million dollar loss to commercial shipping.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Department of Revenue issued certification for a tax-increment- financing district Friday afternoon, opening one more door for developer Jim Massa to proceed through on his way to establishing an automobile raceway.






(More History)