Vapouround Bus Heads South, January 2019

We love a good spin down south with the Vapouround Bus, and it’s even better when our smoking cessation service on wheels has had a total makeover. We kicked off the new year by hitting the road and set our course for Bournemouth for a weekend of starter kits, games and shenanigans. 

 

BHVape, Bournemouth. January 18, 2019
Johnnie Lovell — known to most as a host of the Vaper Expo and Vapouround Awards — was his usual jovial self and pulled out all the stops inviting members of the local community to BHVape and the Vapouround Bus on what was a freezing cold Friday. 
Despite the cold climes, there was an impressive turnout of dedicated vapers and curious smokers trying their first kit aboard the bus. Everyone commented positively on the new wrap, which stood out more than ever with a special helping of pink.  
In-keeping with the theme of newness and bold fashion statements, the bus also featured a line of “Vee-Shirts” from Ohm Made Apparel. These brightly-coloured t-shirts are made by vapers, for vapers and were designed by Ohmbré, a close friend of everyone at BHVape, who joined us for the day.  
Paradox & Vapourtrade, Bournemouth. Saturday, January 19
On Saturday, the Vapouround team went all out, completing three stops. 
We rolled up at Paradox on Old Christchurch Road at 10.30am. We received a very warm welcome from both Eddie and Cissa, who introduced us to all the staff. Paradox is a unique place that has not only reached out to one subculture, but two. One half of the shop provides tattoos and piercings, the other provides all your vaping needs. Both the shop and its visitors were so pleased with their Vapouround Bus visit, they booked another one. We hope to return for a special evening on Friday, June 28, and warmer temperatures we hope! 
Next up was Vapourtrade on Alder Road where we met Charlie, before heading to another Vapourtrade stop, this time on Wimborne Road where we were greeted by Harry. Our pit-stops at both Vapourtrade sites were introductory, familiarising staff with the purpose and functions of the Vapouround Bus. Everyone at both Vapourtrade stores were thrilled with its new look and layout, eager to take pictures and videos both inside and out. We hope to return soon and give them a full outing! 
    
The British Vape Company, Bournemouth. Sunday, January 20 
On Sunday, we were greeted by sisters Tatiana and Alex. An eventful day saw us doing our duty for the local smokers by hooking them up with starter kits. Staff and vapers at The British Vape Company were very excited about the arrival of CBD in the vape trade, and look forward to seeing what it can do for those who need it. We were later joined by co-owner Matt, another pillar in the local vape community, who helped fill us in on The British Vape Company’s own brands and unique liquid ranges. 

Premier E-Cigs, Mansfield, September 7 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often on tour, no matter where we go and what we see, it’s the people who make the best impression.

Whilst getting the true premier industry experience at Premier E-Cigs, the bus was visited by a woman suffering from MS. She had been given a life expectancy of twenty years and had lived double that on a five-a-day habit. Now, urged by her children, she decided to quit, going home to personally pick up her pack to trade with us.

After taking her starter kit, the newly-converted vaper signed up to the Vapouround Club to what we hope will be a long and fruitful journey for her.

 

I Love Vapes, Southampton, August 24 2018

Sometimes, the clue really is in the name. From its setup to its marketing, I Love Vapes went all out in helping us bring vaping to those who really needed it. This date saw us in a beautifully maintained shop which has built a devoted following. The efforts of owner Jas has had both the bus and shop packed all day. One outstanding visitor we had was a man on a mobility scooter turning in his cigarettes for a starter kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The British Vape Company, Bournemouth, August 25 2018

The British Vape Company, Bournemouth, August 25
There’s no where better than a bustling high street to do business. And where better than Bournemouth? Hosts Matt and Tatiana at The British Vape Company proved how well they have cultivated relationships with the locals, as smokers and non-smokers alike braved some adverse weather conditions  to get their fill of the shop and the Vapouround bus. This day saw families changed, with one young woman taking a starter kit for her stepdad. Matt and Tatiana even provided some of their own manufactured liquids on the day. We’ll be back!

A natural hotspot of both dedicated vapers and smokers who have yet to make the switch, we were exposed to the best examples of what the industry can do for communities.

 

Vaper Expo Shop, Halesowen, August 3 2018

Like the show it was named after, the Vaper Expo Shop in Halesowen attracted the best and brightest.

A calm, relaxed atmosphere at the venue allowed us to enjoy more in-depth conversations with both vape shop workers and curious members of the public. It’s one thing to provide an entry point into vaping for curious smokers, but spending quality time with them as you do is a huge bonus.

Refax Vapes, Queensway, August 4 2018

Shop manager Cheryl Yee hosted us on a beautiful sunny day on a busy high street providing perfect public exposure.

An overwhelming majority of those we engaged were non-vapers having their first experience with our smoking cessation service. Even vapers who visited us left the bus determined to help get their friends and relatives off cigarettes.

Inside the shop, we learned that Refax has connected extremely well with the local vaping community and everyone involved was happy to help grow it that day.

Steamachine, Portsmouth

Travelling back to a simpler time aboard the Vapouround bus

With so many vape shops springing up all over the country, standing out from the crowd is more important than it’s ever been. Alongside first-class customer service and quality products, success in the modern vape market is about brand identity – something Portsmouth’s Steam Machine has in spades.

There are no black snapbacks here. Steam Machine’s staff are dressed to the nines, in keeping with the shop’s rustic aesthetic. The shop is like a portal to a simpler time, albeit one rife with high-end mods and premium e-liquids. 

Almost as important as what goes on within the confines of a shop itself is the role of social media. While I’m generally more comfortable behind the camera (or, better still, nowhere near it), the social media guys at Steam Machine helped add to the excitement as the bus welcomed vapers throughout the day.

With the bus set up, social media manager Darrell hopped aboard to introduce himself and us to his audience watching on Facebook Live. A tour of the bus followed and his excitement at revealing some of the features boosted my mood for the day ahead.

Darrell’s journey from smoker to vaper is one tinged with tragedy. A serious house fire severely damaged his property, causing significant stress which lead him back onto cigarettes after he’d previously managed to quit with the aid of a cigalike.

“A while after that, a friend of mine introduced me to this ‘vaping thing’. It had come a long, long way since I had the cigalike.”

Now, as well as being a passionate vaper and Steam Machine employee, Darrell is looking to start an advocacy group, uniting vape companies from around the country.

As a SNES Street Fighter battle between staff ensued behind us, I spoke to visitor Roy – a somewhat sceptical smoker whose friends were increasingly making the switch to e-cigarettes. He appeared to be close to pulling the trigger, so it was an honour to be the one to help him enter the world of vaping with the aid of a free, easy-to-use starter kit. 

Next up was Danny, who seemed as interested in the vehicle’s potential as a party bus as any of its contents. I soon directed him to the vape box to try out some potential new liquids.

“There are so many of them now, I might never find the right one. I can only keep trying, I suppose!”

I headed back into the shop where staff and customers chatted casually. It was clear from the relaxed atmosphere that they felt at home. As manager Paul explained, that’s all part of Steam Machine’s charm.

“It’s like a social club, really. We don’t pressure people to buy things.”

With the evening upon us, it was time to pack down and head off for the next leg of the journey, full steam ahead

Sun, sea, VG/PG

A truly extraordinary day at BHVape

While no two days aboard the Vapouround bus are the same, you do come to expect some things to pan out in a certain way. One thing you don’t expect is to be greeted at your destination with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for a cup-winning football team, but such was the case at BHVape in Bournemouth.

As our expert driver inched the bus into a seemingly-impossible space, Johnnie Lovell and his team waved excitedly, smiles lighting up their faces. We hopped off and gratefully accepted the first of many offers of coffee. Not a bad start to the day!

Before opening the bus to the public, we took a few minutes to check out the shop. Packed with knick-knacks and curios, BHVape has the air of a curiosity shop about it. You could certainly imagine Johnnie operating it as such in another era.

Doughnuts-in-hand, we opened the bus to the locals and the many customers already relaxing in the café area of the shop. Long-time BHVape customer Tom shared his story – a familiar tale of slipping back into bad habits before finally quitting for good.

“I would never go back now. I took a drag of a cigarette recently and it instantly reminded me of my first ever puff as a kid. Such a nasty, horrible taste. Vaping does come with its own set of issues – I’m forever cleaning VG from my windows for one thing – but that’s nothing compared to what you put up with as a smoker.”

Throughout the day I alternated between the bus and the shop, where it became increasingly difficult to find somewhere to sit. Even a couple of pet dogs lay flopped below their owners’ feet. 

One all-too-common criticism of some vaping shops is their cliquishness. BHVape is the exact opposite – as much a welcoming community centre as a supplier of vape products. It’s no wonder people were sticking around. 

As BHVape’s Alex played Mega Man X on the SNES on the bottom deck of the bus, customers upstairs tried some e-liquids on the Vape Station. Old Skool Vape’s Mayhem was proving to be very popular, with one vaper commenting that it would go very well with a vodka and coke. We, of course, stuck to coffee and doughnuts (of which BHVape seemed to have a limitless supply.)

Vaping is above all about health. I spoke to no fewer than four people affected by COPD who had made the switch to vaping with their doctors’ blessing. It was a reminder of just how fortunate we are in this country to not only have the support of the government and NHS but also laws that allow for the likes of BHVape to operate.

After yet more coffee, some goodbye hugs and a few photos, we were back on the road, with Johnnie’s promise ringing in our ears.

“Come back in the summer. I’ll have a band, I’ll have a BBQ. We’ll put the ‘B’ in Bournemouth!”