Opening new vape shop - in the midst of burning epidemic

"Road users in Sweden must organise themselves and speak out! Our politicians would rather we smoked, at least as current policy stands"
So says Quest Leite, founder of Arcane Vape and SteamQuest, who is now opening a new vejpshop in Gothenburg.

He is laying moddes on a bed of coal when Vejpkollen comes to visit. Quest Leite looks a bit worn. Not surprising, perhaps. Three months of work, almost around the clock, to build everything from interior design to partition walls (made of clay) in the premises on Andra Långgatan in Gothenburg. It takes its toll. 

"The twigged clay wall consists of sand and clay from the West Link construction, actually. It weighs almost three tonnes in total. It alone took 300 man-hours to construct. There were many of us who worked hard." says Quest Leite.

Vejpkollen wonders why he didn't just use plasterboard?
He responds quickly, not irritated, but perhaps a little offended.

"The air in the room is better than if it had been plaster. And it keeps the heat in better. And it's a cool building technique. I like weird crafts. And then, when I think about it, I don't do what everyone else does, with anything."

Like opening a vejpshop in the middle of the worst corona epidemic?

"Well, we're not expecting a flying start, exactly. But we stumbled upon a space with the best location in town, and didn't want to miss the opportunity. Plus, we'll have SteamQuest's juice lab adjacent to the store."

Fifth e-cigarette shop in Gothenburg

Quest Leite has been running the e-juice company for a few years now SteamQuest and the webshop Arcane Vape. The juices are already available in several of Sweden's vejpshoppes, packaged in black bottles with gold details. The store will have the same look. Dark and shiny. Rustic. 

There are currently four dedicated vejphoppar in Gothenburg. But Quest Leite believes there can't be too many. Because it's all about attracting smokers, he says. And that requires showcases for the technology.

"The more vejpshoppers the better. The location of this store will probably attract more smokers who otherwise wouldn't even think of switching to e-cigarettes. Then we create new vejpers and that's good for all the shops in town. So I don't see it as competition. It makes the industry grow, plain and simple" says Quest Leite.

Next year we will introduce government higher nicotine taxes. At the same time, there is a debate on flavour ban in e-juices in the EU. There is a strong case for further restrictions. What do you see as the future of vejpning?

"As I see it, vejpers in Sweden must organise themselves and speak out. We have politicians who seem to think that it is better to smoke than to vejpa. That is the same as trying to kill us. We as entrepreneurs can't do much to change this, we mostly work hard to make our businesses work."

Why do you think there is so much opposition to vejpning and e-cigarettes?

"Two of the world's biggest lobby organisations are trying to get rid of us, the tobacco industry and pharmaceutical companies. We must not forget that. But we have to get dirty. We should not be happy because we perhaps get to keep the flavours in our e-juices, or be happy that a nicotine shot will cost 69p. They want us to quit vejpa and start smoking again. That's not ok anywhere."

Why are vejpshoppers important?

Because vejpning can be quite complicated. Especially for a smoker. Sure, you can buy an e-cig in the local shop, but in a vejpshop you can get help from someone who is both knowledgeable, passionate and concerned about the quality of both the hardware and the e-juice. You simply get a hell of a lot better service in a vejpshop than anywhere else."

Sawyer Quest Leite. He excuses himself and wanders off to unpack some more mods. In just a few hours, he'll open the doors of Gothenburg's fifth vejpshop.

"But no. We won't have a party. Not now. We'll do that later, when everything is a bit safer. And we have a little less pandemic" he says and disappears under the counter.

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