Vapor Station owner James Jarvis lost his grandmother to lung cancer, so he's on a mission to help smokers kick the habit via electronic cigarettes.
Jarvis moved his second Vapor Station in Gahanna on July 11 from Granville Street to 144 N. Hamilton Road, near the Hound Hut. He opened his first Vapor Station on July 1, 2013, in Columbus. A third location is scheduled to open later this month at 3732 Fishinger Blvd. in Hilliard.
"I lost my grandmother to lung cancer, and my father was a smoker," he said. "He quit in his 40s. It took away someone dear to me. We hear stories -- one to two a day -- about how (e-cigarettes) have helped."
The products themselves are geared to people who want to quit using tobacco-based products. The electronic version of the cigarette is filled with a flavored juice that a heating coil turns into a vapor. The flavored juice often promotes the loyalty as most vaping stores have bars that sell pre-mixed juices and juice flavors that customers could create.
"We're trying to help people," Jarvis said. "We offer a solution that's healthy for them. We go to concerts or car shows with sampling stations. We try to do as much connecting as possible to help them understand."
Jarvis originally helped his friend, Jason Gang, who was into the manufacturing side of e-cigarettes about five years ago in Reynoldsburg.
"I helped with sales," he said. "We continued to build and build and sold to carryouts and gas stations. From there we saw the industry was changing. We saw we could help educate customers, and he opened a store in Massillon called Vapor Station. As a Vapor Station group, we have 14 stores of which I own three. He owns several, and others are owned by friends."
Vapor Station employs a former executive chef to help with juice-mixing duties.
"He is teaching us a lot about layering flavors," Jarvis said. "All of the flavor creation has turned into a vaping outbreak in Columbus. Last year, there were only two vapor stores in Columbus. Now there are 17 stores and counting."
Jarvis said Vapor Stations have a tasting bar, with samples including house blends made by his wife, Gerri.
"We have six national brands," he said. "You can try them before you buy. We explain how to use them and safety precautions. There are things that could shorten the life of the battery. We offer all that here at the new store. The initial investment is less than a carton of cigarettes and it benefits (customers') health."
An online review of Gahanna's new location noted "tons and tons of samples available in multiple strengths, depending on what nicotine level you are looking for and, if you're new, tester batteries to boot."
The reviewer said customer service is beyond reproach.
Jarvis said he wants to educate customers and make sure they have the ultimate experience. He said products from local stores and national vendors are scheduled at an educational event called a "Vape Meet" from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 19, on the patio at Signatures Mill Stone Tavern, 94 Mill St. Mixing stations and samples will be available.
Jarvis also is chairman of Citizens Against Classifying Vapor As Tobacco, a political action committee that opposes proposed House Bill 42. The legislation would tax electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco cigarettes.
"It isn't close to fair," he said. "We're trying to educate people at the Statehouse. If you tax it, tax it realistically."
Vapor Station business hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays though Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.