In 2014 Rodrigo Santos was finally fed up with the fact that he had spent the last few years ordering his vape products online only to be disappointed with what he received. Products would arrive at his doorstep broken, incorrect, or just not as described online – he knew there had to be a better way. He tried shopping around locally, only to be underwhelmed with the selection and quality of products nearby.
After getting back in touch with a couple friends Rodrigo knew from high school, Jesse Flores and Reza Noroozi – friends quickly became business partners.
“We sat down, we talked, and we started looking at spaces in town. The next thing we knew we were signing a lease and I was selling my car and talking to friends and family about investing some money into the business so we had enough to get us off the ground,” recalls Rodrigo.
Just like that Bethesda Vapor Company was born. Since opening their doors just three years ago, the shop has gotten a great response from their community and has continued to impress customers year after year.
“Prior to working in this industry I was a Hospitality Specialist for 5 and a half years, so I have brought a lot of that knowledge and experience to the shop. We truly put the customers experience first. If a customer comes in with an issue, we take the time to talk to them and work it out instead of just selling them a new product. Although a lot of the time user error is the root of the problem, there is no such thing as a perfect tank. So we take the time to educate our customers and make sure that the have the right product for what they need,” explains Rodrigo.
Taking the time to teach customers about the products is one of the main reasons Bethesda Vapor Company stands out from other shops in the area. For the Maryland shop, it’s not just about making money, it’s about getting the right products into each customers hand. Not all customers are the same and the service and care each person receives when they visit the shop is what keeps them coming back time and time again.
“We don’t over sell. I don’t keep a ton of stock, what customers see in the store is what we have. I don’t run any sales or promotions or try to upsell my customers. Our goal is to get people away from cigarettes and make that experience as smooth as possible for them so they don’t turn back to their old habits,” he continues.
We customers walk into the Maryland shop, they immediately notice that the store has an ease about it. It’s comfortable, relaxed, and easy to navigate.
“We have three displays that start out with some locally made clothes and then all of our products are displayed. We try to talk to customers right when they walk in and see if they need anything from us, if not we let them browse at their own leisure. We also have some couches here in the shop and two 60in TVs where customers can relax and a poker table that has a juice buy in every now and then,” explains Rodrigo.
At BVC prices are they same as the product MSRPs online for everything they carry so customers won’t see any discounts besides a military discount. The shop does their best to match prices online so customers can shop locally without spending more than they need too.
In addition to great prices, the Maryland shop carries some unique products as well. In 2015, after some tinkering and trial and error, Rodrigo pieced together 7 different vaporizers to create one ultimate concentrate vape. Customers took notice of what he had created almost immediately and urged him to get it manufactured. So after raising some capital and paying multiple fees to get the product engineered and manufactured, Rodrigo received his first 500 units.
“After I received the final product, I sent some out to a couple of important people I thought would love what we had made. Shortly thereafter, High Times reached out to me to tell me they thought the product was awesome, unique, and that they had never seen anything like it, but they wanted $15,000 from us to tell people that. For that price, I had to turn them down, there was no way I could afford that – it was an insane amount. So from there I sold the product locally with great feedback from my customers,” recalls Rodrigo.
Eight months later Yocan released a version of the design.
“It crushed our brand. It crushed our spirit. After that, the other top vape pen concentrate companies were releasing it left and right with our design as well. Our plan now is to do some redesigning and rerelease our product. Since we first came out with it, we have gained a huge following of people who know it was our original design. I’m really just sick over the whole situation. It makes no sense to me why a business would carry clones at this point. Our product is designed in the USA and offered at a competitive price to all leading brands. We make efforts to support locally designed and/or manufactured products at our store. I guess we operate under a different mindset then some others,” he continues.
It’s that mindset and view on the industry that has built a strong bond between the Maryland shop and its customers. The community appreciates how deeply the team values quality and service when it comes to their business which makes the shop a place they can truly trust.
“We are always honest with our customers and we have their best interest in mind. We put their experience with us above all else. We look at our business almost as if it was a clinic. We don’t try to oversell or give people more nicotine they they need. We do our best to match customers with exactly what they need to lower their nicotine intake or quit altogether. When people leave our shop educated on how to lead a healthier life and they had a good experience with us – that’s the best part about what we do. It’s something to be proud of,” explains Rodrigo.
It’s no surprise that Bethesda Vapor Company has been such a quick hit with customers. Driven by passion and built upon pillars of honesty, quality, service, and education – it’s easy to see why customers love to shop at BVC. Rodrigo, Jesse, and Reza’s fresh perspective of the industry shows they are wise beyond their years. By putting customers first and setting an example as a shop when it comes to quality and education, they give the industry a good name. SVBS