I n 2012, when Chris Anderson and his brother Shawn Anderson couldn’t find e-liquids that satisfied them, they set out to develop their own. Little did they know, their quest for a great e-liquid would land them a successful line of vapor shops, a heavily-trafficked website, and their own manufacturing facility.
“Not that long ago, making the transition from smoking to vaping was a lot harder than it is now. We didn’t have the option to just run down to the local corner store and purchase vape supplies like you would a new pack of cigarettes. But my brother and I knew that we preferred vaping to smoking and that we wanted to get away from smoking, so we looked into flavor companies. We placed our orders on credit cards and dove into the flavor development process,” explains Chris Anderson, CTI of Cravin Vapes.
After establishing a handful of flavors that they were proud of, Chris and Shawn began handing the flavors out to friends. Shortly thereafter, the popularity of their flavors grew rapidly.
“My background is in IT and Telecommunications and I worked in that industry for the last 10 years, so to make our lives easier, I put together a website in 2012. By late 2013, we had grown enough where it was time for us to decide if we were going to pursue Cravin Vapes as a business. Shawn did a lot of research and we ultimately made the decision to open up our first store in Fort Wayne, Indiana,” he recalls.
The first location was small, but it had all the essentials. There was a vape bar, juice room, register, a tiny lab, and a cozy lounge area. But after just a few short months, the Indiana shop began bursting at the seams.
“We were pretty packed all the time, so we decided to expand into the space next to us. We opened up a wall and did some major renovations. We also updated what we were wearing as well and began wearing lab coats and hair nets. We wanted to make the development side of things a little more pharmaceutical and organized. We wanted our made-to-order product to be as safe as possible for our consumers,” Chris explains.
After expanding their first location, Cravin Vapes continued to gain traction in the industry and grow in popularity with customers. Chris and Shawn soon had people interested in joining their business.
“We were approached by quite a few different people who were either interested in doing their own shop or doing a vape shop with us. And the latter was our approach because we felt that the interested parties would be more successful by partnering with us and opening up addition Cravin Vapes locations. And just like that, we grew to 15 locations in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio,” says Chris.
Growing any business comes with hard times and bumps in the road, but this industry has come with some pretty major changes in recent years and has kept vapor shop owners on the defense. Cravin Vapes has been no different.
“We’ve gone through quite a scare here over the past couple years with the legislation. Shawn actually started an additional company here with some investors in order to help retain our Cravin Vapes brand. When we found out we were only going to be able to get e-liquid from a licensed manufacturer, which would change the entire model of our brand – because we would not be a bottle-on-demand or a made-to-order product anymore – we knew we had to act quickly. Fortunately, because of the concentration of the shops we had already established, we were able to get a license. We then set up a state of the art manufacturing facility called Licensed E-Liquid Manufacturing,” he explains.
Today, Licensed E-Liquid Manufacturing produces many different brands of e-liquid and sells them nationally as well as supplying all of the Cravin Vapes locations. LEM made it their mission to provide e-liquids made in a highly safe environment and mixed with quality ingredients. They want their vapers to know that they have their best interest in mind when creating their products. LEM works hard to create impeccable e-liquids that stand out in the industry.
“I am still excited and terrified of the regulations 24 hours a day. Right now, our lives consist of trying to operate the stores and run the manufacturing side of things in a very strict state. It’s a lot of work to make sure we are compliant,” mentions Chris. “We even launched a website called www.checkthetesting.com so that every bottle manufactured at Licensed E-Liquid has a scannable QR code that not only shows the ingredients listings and when it was manufactured, but also the lot numbers and batch numbers of every ingredient and component that goes into that bottle. We believe in full transparency and pharmaceutical grade tracking system. This system is something that we created and use on a daily basis for all of our products,” he continues.
Shawn and Chris paid close attention to detail when it came to creating the atmosphere of the brick and mortar CV locations. Customers come in to get their vaping supplies, but they hang out for the experience. They want to be treated well and feel special, and the ambience of CV locations most certainly contributes to these feelings. The overall feel of the Cravin Vapes locations allows customers to look around and enjoy themselves, and maybe even stay longer than they planned, simply because they want to soak in the atmosphere of the place. Guests are met with staff in Cravin Vapes scrub shirts (dry fit polos for managers) creating an inviting and professional appearance that adds to the overall environment of the store.
Each location is staffed with a knowledgeable team that is more than happy to answer any questions customers may have and help them try out flavors before they make a purchase. A few locations offer games and most have hang out areas with vape magazines and additional products to try.
“We offer interactive online retail training for all of our locations and our shift planning software allows us to push out our standard operating procedures as well as any company changes that may occur so that all of our locations are on the same page and feel the same to customers,” says Chris.
Most locations have over 200 e-liquids on-site that customers can try and the Ohio locations still offer custom e-liquid options.
Customers can stay up to date with Cravin Vapes on social media platforms, listen for their advertisements on the radio, and keep an eye out for their coupons locally. CV even has a full time social media staff that maintains a constant giveaway and promotional cycle.
So what’s next for Cravin Vapes?
“We have a pretty aggressive goal set right now. We want to open up 25 more locations, hopefully within this year. We also have a couple of new brands and new retail locations with a lot of the same lines, so there might be more than just Cravin Vapes going forward as we continue to expand into other opportunities,” mentions Chris.
At Cravin Vapes, the customer always comes first and that is one of the reasons the Indiana rooted shop has been so successful as they have expanded.
“You aways have to remember to keep your clientele in mind and that means paying close attention to how you market your store, you don’t want it to be too genre specific. Never scale a large demographic into a small sliver of what it was before by only caring certain products tor investing in certain marketing or certain atmospheres,’ advises Chris.
Backed by Chris and Shawn and an extremely dedicated team, it’s no surprised that Cravin Vapes has become so successful. Their passion for their careers and the industry as a whole has not only put Cravin Vapes on the map, but propelled them straight to the top. SVBS