Where Art Meets Function
Long time industry veteran Ryan Donnelly created Exhale Smoke Shop out of passion. For over 15 years, Donnelly has been involved in multiple aspects of the industry. From growing to sales, he has done it all. When the opportunity presented itself for him to finally own his own business in an industry that had given him so much, he knew he couldn’t say no.
“When I opened the store in 2015, my primary goal was to create an area where people could not only get quality products, but they could also get all the information they needed through great customer service as well,” explains Donnelly.
Exhale Smoke Shop isn’t like every other smoke shop in the area, it’s also an art gallery that features unique art from local artists on the walls as well as in the display cases. The shop was a liquor store in a past life and the old cooler cases were salvaged for the new store and turned into display cases uses to showcase their glass.
“Every two months we have 5-7 artists come fill our walls with their art. We have an opening night with the artists in the shop and then for the next month or so their art stays on the walls and is available for purchase with all of the profits going right back to the artist,” says Donnelly.
Exhale finds artists through word of mouth, takes a look at portfolios, and chooses artists who art will cohesively fill the walls of the shop. Donnelly and the team members of Exhale Smoke Shop work hard to cultivate a creative atmosphere that really makes the shop stand out and gives customers a unique experience. When customers think of Exhale they think of smoke shop products and outstanding customer service, but they also think of art and the one-of-a-kind experience they get each time they visit.
The process of finding glass artists in a little different for Exhale. Since opening their doors in September 2015, glass artists have reached out to have their work carried in the Sacramento shop.
“One thing we did do upon opening the shop was reach out to our local glass blowers to let them know we would be interested in carrying their work. We try to keep about 50% of the glass in our cases locally made here in Sacramento – that’s something that has always been important for us from day one,” says Donnelly.
One of the biggest factors in the success of the Sacramento smoke shop is their customer service.
“Hands down customer service is why we have been able to grow the business. We have done little to no advertising and we have solely survived on the 5 star ratings online we have worked so hard for,” mentions Donnelly.
In addition to great customer service, Exhale also promises fair prices on all products which instills trust in customers and keeps them coming back again and again. As Exhale maintains a positive consistency with pricing and customer service, customers notice and this quickly builds trust. When customers trust a business, they usually recommend the business to their friends and family, and this is exactly how Exhale has made such a great name for themselves. Attention to detail with customers and fair pricing can have a huge impact on success.
“We never overprice here. We will always have fair pricing, which is why we don’t run crazy deals or specials. Our prices are already where customers expect them to be. The people we serve are hands down the best part of this industry and providing fair pricing is the least we can do. The community we are now part of made up of amazing people and we are so happy to be in it,” says Donnelly.
Above all else, Donnelly and the team at Exhale, just love what they do every day. They love the industry, they love working together, and they love their customers.
“Connecting with your customers is a pivotal part of this business. If you don’t take care of your customers, odds are you won’t see them again. I personally feel like customer service is a lost art these days and sometimes people think that just opening a store means people will shop there. But the reality is, there is a lot of competition and you, as a store owner, need to give people a reason to continually come back to your store,” explains Donnelly.
Looking forward to the future, Donnelly is excited to keep investing in the store. From adding new products to improving the physical aspect of the store, customers will surely love the upcoming changes.
“I’m just excited to take every dollar we make here and put it back into the store and constantly improve who we are and what we are known for,” says Donnelly.
It’s easy to see why Exhale Smoke Shop has been such a success. With top notch customer service, fair prices, constant shop improvements, local art, and great attention to detail the shop continues to impress customers time and time again. Lead by the industry veteran Ryan Donnelly and a team of passionate store employees, the shop has truly concocted a recipe for success and proved they will be around for years to come.
Stay up to date with Exhale Smoke Shop on Instagram @exhale.smoke.shop and learn more about customer experiences on Yelp.com. SVBS