ELLSWORTH − It’s a small, unassuming shop with large picture windows and a white storefront. But Ellsworth’s newest glass and vape shop is riding a multi-billion wave that isn’t expected to crest anytime soon.
“It’s been pretty good,” said Tim Robison, co-owner of Smoke & Vape, which opened two months ago at 27 High St., next to Sargent Realty Group.
“A lot of new faces. A lot of people walking by.”
The store sells a wide selection of glass smoking accessories (but no cannabis products) along with vaporizers and liquid nicotine pods in flavors such as grape, mango tango and Butta Beer (modeled after the creamy caramel concoction in the wizarding world of Harry Potter).
“Anything to help quit cigarettes,” said Robison. “The way I see it, it’s another option.”
Electronic cigarettes, also known as vaporizers, vapes, mods or vape pens, come in many shapes and sizes. Some resemble traditional cigarettes; others are slim and look more like pens or a USB cartridge. Most are battery-powered (often rechargeable) and contain a heating element along with a place to hold liquid that will be warmed, vaporized and inhaled by the user.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concedes in an “About Electronic Cigarettes” page that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but cautions: “that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are safe.” The liquid pods contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful to developing brains and pregnant women. The pods also can contain other noxious ingredients, including heavy metals and carcinogens. And the rise of vaping among teenagers has many adults worried; with several schools around Hancock County issuing warnings to parents in recent weeks that vaping is on the rise among students.
Robison said he knows vape smoke isn’t exactly healthy. “You’re facing other things,” he acknowledged. But for long-time smokers, said the California native, it’s a slightly better option.
Robison’s father was raised in Blue Hill, and Robison has spent a lot of time around Ellsworth. Asked why Ellsworth is a good location for a vape shop, Robison said he believes there’s a market and “It’s been a familiar place.” Robison and his partner also run a shop in Machias that sells glassware and cannabidiol (CBD) products. (CBD is one of hundreds of compounds found in hemp plants.)
Robison buys his products from Speedy Distribution, Inc., a wholesale vape supplier in Florida. “It’s kind of like a Walmart” for vaping, he said. Business has been good. “We’ve got a good clientele,” he added.
Robison said he knows stores like his may get sideways glances from some community members, but said “It’s statewide legal,” adding “It’s a choice. People don’t have to look at it. They can turn around.”
There is no smoking on the premises.