Kiwi chain VAPO is celebrating the opening of two new stores. One in Queenstown, that is the locality’s largest specialist vape store, and one in Auckland’s Pukekohe. The Kiwi owners say the dedicated stores will help keep many people off cigarettes given that non-specialist vape sellers are facing heavy restrictions on the selling of vape flavours from 2021.
The new Queenstown store is the 14th for New Zealand’s largest vape company, founded by Christchurch-born entrepreneurs Ben Pryor and Jonathan Devery, with their first store opening only in 2017. VAPO is now one of the biggest vape brands in Australasia.
“We’re delighted to have secured this central site, and we’re very pleased to be employing three Queenstown-based people including store manager, Sannah Lee. It’s a great team, and a smart fitout which importantly reflects the town centre’s look and feel,” says Mr Devery, co-owner of VAPO and Alt New Zealand.
“We’re excited that it marks the first significant specialist vape store for Queenstown. VAPO’s arrival will help a lot of locals and visitors to quit deadly cigarettes. We also want to assure people that VAPO stores enforce a strict R18 policy which includes asking for identification from all customers who look under 25 years of age,” he added.VAPO’s retail policy also means the store only sells vape products to smokers wanting to quit tobacco and existing vapers.
The Queenstown store is VAPO’s first one to open since Parliament passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 in August.
Since 11 November, vaping products cannot be advertised, and vaping is not permitted in workplaces. VAPO’s Queenstown and Pukekohe stores are running opening promotions, but due to marketing restrictions now in place all tips are sealed.
From 11 August 2021, general retailers such as supermarkets, service stations and dairies can only sell three vape flavours: Menthol, mint and tobacco. Whereas those that register and qualify as specialist vape stores, including VAPO’s two new stores, can continue to sell a wide range of popular flavours.
“Under the new legislation, vapers in Queenstown and Pukekohe were set to lose considerable access to many flavours from next year as general retailers will only be allowed to sell three. However, VAPO’s arrival means local vapers will retain great access to their favourite flavours which research shows is absolutely critical to keeping people off smoking,” says Mr Devery.
The vape entrepreneur says growing VAPO’s retail offering positively contributes to Smokefree 2025 and keeping New Zealand’s smoking rates down – currently at about 12.5% nationwide.
“By sustainably growing the number of VAPO stores, we’re hoping to encourage even more Kiwi smokers to make the switch. Our online store continues to see good growth, but a ‘bricks and mortar’ retail presence remains important to ex-smokers,” he says.
In a unique partnership with TerraCycle, VAPO encourages vapers to recycle their devices and pods by dropping them off at a VAPO store. Alternatively, e-cigarette waste can be sent free through the post by participants signing up to a programme on Terracycle’s website.
For every kilogramme of vaping waste sent to TerraCycle, VAPO and Alt donates $1 to the charity Sustainable Coastlines – which works to keep New Zealand’s coastlines beautiful. VAPO’s Queenstown store marks the third one for the South Island.
VAPO stores nationwide are also located in Auckland’s NorthWest Shopping Centre, Sylvia Park, Manukau Westfield, Dominion Road, Onehunga, Karangahape Road, High Street CBD, Takapuna and New Lynn, as well as Hamilton East, Wellington’s Cuba Street, Hardy Street in Nelson, and High Street in Christchurch.
After considerable local demand and requests, VAPO also opened at 90 King Street in Pukekohe on Monday, 16 November. Managed by Matthew Kearney, the Pukekohe store will be VAPO’s 15th in New Zealand, employing three locals.