By Amanda Browning Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — GREENSBURG – Hoosier E-Cig opened its doors in a grand opening ceremony for the new location Friday morning.
Electronic cigarettes have taken the smoking world by storm in the last few years. The new trend, often called “vaping,” is growing in popularity as a safer, less offensive alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are small devices that use a battery and atomizer to vaporize liquid nicotine to form a water vapor that contains nicotine. When exhaled, the vapor dissipates into the air, leaving no residue or lingering scent.
“It is a battery powered cigarette that vaporizes a nicotine solution, which is available in hundreds of flavors and doesn’t even have to taste like a cigarette. There’s no tar, no fire, no ash and no smoke,” said Brent McCullough, the owner of Hoosier E-Cig.
McCullough traveled an interesting path to becoming the owner of his own successful business. It all started with him being a smoker looking for an alternative. While browsing the internet in May of 2010, McCullough came across an ad for one of the early e-cigs and decided to try it out.
The e-cig worked for him, but not particularly well. McCullough began looking for better performing products because he liked the idea of the e-cig, but the model he had lacked the proper execution. When McCullough found an e-cig he liked, he used it instead of smoking and took it to work with him at Gecom. Other workers noticed his e-cig and began asking questions about it.
Before long, other Gecom workers wanted to try e-cigs of their own and asked McCullough to order them. One of the other workers pushed for McCullough to start selling them in person. Eventually, McCullough placed a $600 order with a wholesaler and purchased a selection of e-cigs, which he then sold in person around the community, making his money back relatively quickly.
The growing online e-cig market led McCullough to start a website to sell the products, which launched in February of 2011. The online business steadily grew until McCullough and his wife, who ran the business out of their living room, were forced to find an alternate space from which to work. They rented a small space last July to free up the room in their home, bought some display counters and opened the store.
It didn’t take long for them to run out of space at the first store. McCullough began looking at properties all around Greensburg, but most were too expensive. Hoosier E-Cig found its current home in the old Citizen’s National Bank building, where it is housed in the quiet elegance of the historical building. McCullough said when he saw the building, he just fell in love. Because it had been empty for three years, he also got a good deal on the rent. McCullough and his five employees, one of whom is his wife, seem to enjoy the space they have in the new building.
McCullough said in person business has been great, but most of his business continues to come from the website, which delivers all over the world. Because McCullough had such a small start-up cost for his company, he said his business is self-sustaining and has been from the start because he uses his profits to purchase new inventory. He hasn’t had to ask for any loans and steady online and in person business has made his company profitable.
Several factors combined together make McCullough’s product unique among the electronic cigarettes available in other stores, particularly compared to the disposable varieties sold in many gas stations. McCullough’s refillable e-cigs are considerably cheaper than other e-cig providers. Performance and lifespan are also advantages he holds over other providers. But what makes his products truly unique is the massive amount of flavors he has available and the ultimate customizability of his products, most of which are interchangeable, even among different models. Users can also adjust the level of nicotine they receive so they can wean themselves off the addictive substance.
McCullough had about 60 flavors of nicotine “juice” available before he hired Richard Moore to create additional flavors. Currently, Hoosier E-Cig has 201 flavors of juice available, with varying levels of nicotine. Aside from the prepackaged flavors that McCullough purchases, which are generally the tobacco flavored juices, all the custom flavors are mixed fresh in-house for each customer and then labeled with the customer’s name and the liquid’s “born on” date. McCullough said he absolutely plans to develop more flavors.
In addition, there are a number of accessories available at Hoosier E-Cig that provide customers with hundreds of customization options. Custom tips and mouthpieces made from a variety of materials, 15 different colors for the e-cig, batteries with adjustable output, and a multitude of vaporizers and atomizing devices are all available for customers to choose from. E-cigs can be purchased in kits or built from pieces to make something totally unique.
Since getting into the electronic cigarette business, McCullough has done a lot of research into the health benefits of using an e-cig compared to a traditional cigarette. When exclusively using an e-cig, within the first week, a smoker will notice improvements to their breathing and senses of taste and smell. Within a month, the user will likely be repulsed by the smell of traditional smoke. E-Cigs don’t discolor teeth or nails like traditional cigarettes do, either.
“I finally understood what non-smokers meant when they said the smell was awful,” McCullough said.
Along with the research about the benefits, came the scattered reports that said e-cigs were unhealthy. While it is certainly safer and healthier than traditional smoking, because the products that allow vaping are so new, there have been no long term studies conducted that could predict permanent effects. Many naysayers contest that one of the liquid nicotine ingredients, propylene glycol, is unhealthy because it is in antifreeze. McCullough said that is misleading though. He said the chemical has been around since the 1940s and adding propylene glycol to antifreeze is what made the substance non-toxic.
“All of the ingredients in our juice are FDA approved and completely non-toxic,” McCullough stated. “We, at most, have five ingredients in our juice- the nicotine, the flavoring, and the dilution liquid.”
McCullough said the e-cig technology is always changing. According to him, demand has driven innovation. Between customer feedback and trial and error, the products are constantly evolving.
“Some people tried one of the first e-cigs to help them quit smoking and didn’t like it so they swore them all off. But the product has changed so much from those first e-cigs,” McCullough added.
The electronic cigarette movement is growing across the nation. While many users never encounter problems, some individuals and businesses may not realize what e-cigs really are. McCullough said his biggest problem has been people who don’t realize it is water vapor and not smoke.
In the future, McCullough plans to launch a line of disposable e-cigarettes, with the hopes that some local stores may carry them. The disposable e-cigs should sell for $6 each. He said he is always expanding the business, bringing in more products and ordering more custom options.
The store’s grand opening was attended by several members of the Greensburg-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Executive Director Jeff Emsweller was on hand with the ribbon and giant scissors for McCullough to officially open the store. McCullough said he’s only been a Chamber member for about a month, but Emsweller and the other Chamber members have been very welcoming to him.
One of McCullough’s helpers for the day, Michael Hines, stood outside holding a sign advertising the grand opening. While he brought in customers, Hines enjoyed his own e-cig. When asked what he liked about it, Hines answered, “I used to chew and wanted something that wouldn’t give me cancer because I couldn’t just quit. I like this better because it’s safer and in the long run, cheaper.”
Hoosier E-Cig is located at 103 East Main Street. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Hoosier E-Cig is always closed Sundays. The store’s website can be found at www.hoosierecig.com. Questions can be directed to the Hoosier E-Cig staff at 812-560-4646.
“It’s healthier, cheaper, and it’s not smoke. You get all the effect of nicotine without the enormous health risk. We are always happy to answer questions too, if anyone wants to know more,” McCullough said.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004