If you walk into a vape shop in New York or LA, you’re likely to meet someone behind the counter who is willing to take the time, for free, to teach you the ins and outs of your device. You simply have to want to learn. It’s counterintuitive to the usual, efficient style of a salesperson, whose job is to push a product on you. This sensei-deshi culture in vaping arose because the survival of vaping, in the face of Big Tobacco lobbyists worldwide, depends on community.
Saigon doesn’t seem to know it yet, but we already have our own vape guru. Jon, owner and founder of DJ’s Vapes, is a California transplant who has been spreading his knowledge and handmade, high-quality juice line for several years now out of a small shop in District 7.
The e-cigarette industry is expected to be worth $10 billion by 2017. It has its fair share of stuff made for showing off and marked-up cheap products. Still, there’s a breed of vapers with geek-level knowledge, like Jon, who have a different bottom line: it’s about more than just quitting smoking, chasing big clouds and fancy toys. Jon has created an atmosphere at DJ’s Vapes that’s about chilling with friends, trying new flavors or mastering a new coil build and, above all, making sure people know what safe, high-quality vaping really looks like.
Do you feel like you’re bringing the American vape experience to Vietnam?
Nah, the shop here is always evolving, right? Because you have different customers that come in, so I’ll even make juices like Pandan leaf for Vietnamese people, things that Americans won’t hit. Product-wise it’s a different market here than in America.
What are some of the differences?
The biggest difference is that the majority of Vietnamese don’t have money to spend. Like a quality product that is on Facebook or on youtube that people do reviews on, they cost anywhere between a hundred to a hundred and seventy dollars and Vietnamese people can’t afford it, and if they can afford it, they question if it’s real or not.
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