Jeff Weber and Victoria Wood were living in California at the time they quit smoking and discovered vaping. After trying numerous methods for kicking the habit, vaping really changed the game for both of them.
“We were originally duel users, but got to the point where we both enjoyed vaping so much more than smoking, that we both stopped smoking all together. It was such a powerful experience for us and we decided that we wanted to dive further into the industry,” explains Jeff.
Jeff and Victoria began to make their own e-liquid and quickly realized that what they were making was better than what they were buying and that inspired them to open a shop. However, in California at the time, there was a vape shop on almost every corner. Although the vapor industry was growing and profitable in California, the pair decided to avoid the over saturated California market and open up shop in another location. Since both Jeff and Victoria were born and raised in the New Orleans area, and their families still lived there, they decided to head back home to start their business.
“We knew that if we were going to make that kind of a major life decision, we wanted to be closer to our family and a city we had roots in,” said Jeff Weber, co-owner of The Vaping Tiger.
After they decided on moving back home, the next step was to create a business plan. The Louisiana natives took the vapor lounge idea, which was all the rage in California, and brought it home. Prior to opening their lounge, the New Orleans area vapor shops were all just retail locations – not lounges.
“All the vapor shops in New Orleans at the time were just retail locations. You would just walk in and pick up your stuff. There was no lounge or seating. You purchased your product and got out. We knew that was not what we wanted for our business. We wanted to create a lounge atmosphere, with a big tasting bar where customers could spend time in the shop,” explained Jeff.
Shortly after moving home and developing a business plan, Jeff and Victoria opened The Vaping Tiger in Metairie, Louisiana in April of 2014. The Louisiana shop serves the Metairie and New Orleans area, offers a full range of vapor products, eCigs, mods, batteries, and tanks, and also features their own line of highly sought after e-liquid.
When the business plan was originally created, Jeff and Victoria didn’t know how the house juice would be received. A lot of shops in today’s industry offer really poor house juice, and it gives all house juice a pretty bad rep. The pair had plans to bring in outside lines, and they did a few times, but The Vaping Tiger house juice outsold all the other lines every time. They even had to throw away a lot of expired bottles from other lines because they just weren’t moving off of the shelves like the house line was.
“When we were originally planning on going into business, we were just planning on doing a juice line. We opened the store because of the juice, it wasn’t an afterthought after we opened our doors. The reason we did decide to open a store is because Victoria and I both have local marketing experience. We knew how to capture a local market, but we were unsure if we could break into the market at a national level and only offer wholesale. We are both really good at dealing with customers, so we knew a store would be the best option for us and our juice,” said Jeff.
It’s no surprise that The Vaping Tiger house line has been such a success. There are no single shot flavors and the ingredients are top notch. Each flavor requires a few months of development before it is launched.
“The flavor testing process that we use takes us a few months. We test each flavor on multiple different devices, on multiple ohms and settings. We test them hot, cold, and everything in between to see how each one actually works. We like to make sure that the full palette comes through with each flavor. We fine tune every aspect of the juice before it goes onto the shelf,” explained Jeff, “I relate crafting flavors to cooking. Anyone can go to the grocery store and pick up a steak and slap it on the grill. But the talent is to make it into a fine dining dish. The seasoning, cooking method, and pairing with the accompanying side flavors is what it takes to get it just right. This is why you can go to restaurant and spend ten dollars on a steak or fifty dollars on a steak. There is a really big difference in the quality of the final product,” he continued.
One of The Vaping Tiger’s top ejuice flavors is Cap in the Bluegrass. It was developed for a regular customer who was looking for something minty and fruity. Jeff whipped something up for her and it ended up being really good right from the start. From there, Jeff spent a few weeks refining it and turning good to beyond great. The flavor was captivating customers who didn’t even like menthol and making it their go to juice. Jeff and Victoria take this approach with every flavor, not just their best seller. They work hard to find the perfect blend of ingredients and have turned the process of crafting ejuice into an art – and that is something customers of The Vaping Tiger have come to expect and is the reason they keep coming back.
The Vaping Tiger customers know that in addition to getting high quality products at the Louisiana shop, they are also getting great deals and prices. The shop offers a Refer a Friend program that has proved to be the most successful form of marketing for the shop thus far. The program gives a discount to the new customer as well as the existing customer, so regular customers are always bringing new faces through the door.
“Treat your customers exactly how you would want to be treated. As the abundance of new customers might be dwindling with all the new propaganda around anti-vaping, you have to be able to communicate effectively with your customers. It doesn’t matter if they might annoy you or if they are only spending $5, treat each person with respect as if they were your own family,” Jeff emphasized.
In addition to simply having quality juice and products, Jeff and Victoria attribute much of their success as business partners to the relationship they have with each other.
“Victoria and I work together seamlessly. We don’t bicker – but if we do – our friendship has made it possible for us to work through anything. When business partners are at odds with each other, the road to success becomes much more difficult than it needs to be. We are both in this for the same reason – to get people off of a tobacco product. When you come on hard times, you have to come together and Victoria and I are great at that,” said Jeff.
The Vaping Tiger location is off the beaten path, no one will accidently find it. Customers have to know exactly where it is to find it. The reason that this isn’t a problem for the shop in terms of business is because that location is the only place where customers can get their hands on the house juice line.
“We have a huge following of people behind our juice. People call all the time having heard about our line and can’t find us and want to know how to get our juice. We get a lot of traffic from other cities. If our juice quality was just average and not excellent, I doubt we would be in business right now,” explained Jeff.
As the demand for their juices grew higher, Jeff and Victoria decided to start bottling a premium juice line. The line consists of the five bestselling flavors and is packaged in glass bottles and is moving the business towards Jeff and Victoria’s original vision of owning a juice company. The line launched this August and is called NOCA Elixirs. NOCA takes the best TigerAide flavors, adds in a little New Orleans flair, and finishes with the trusted quality of the Louisiana shop. Jeff and Victoria hope to distribute NOCA Elixirs nationally in the near future.
The Louisiana pair has truly found their calling and it’s no wonder they have been so successful since opening their doors in 2014. The passion that Jeff and Victoria have for their ejuice, their business, the industry, and their customers sets them miles ahead of their competition and will keep them successful in the years to come.
To learn more about The Vaping Tiger, visit www.vapingtiger.com or find them on Facebook and Instagram (@thevapingtiger). To learn more about their new boutique eliquid line NOCA Elixers, Visit www.nocaelixir.com. SVBS