Electronic cigarette shop opens in Front Royal

Apryl Barb holds her box mod, the hardware of the e-cigarette, while she stands beside a line of 36 e-cigarette flavors inside her Royal Vapors shop on South Royal Avenue in Front Royal. Barb says she gets in new flavors every day as her business continues to grow. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — When Apryl Barb was growing up in Moorefield, West Virginia, she would sneak cigarettes behind her house, trying to avoid her father who could sniff smoke out like a “hound dog.”

When Barb was up to three packs a day, her brother, Robert Claus, approached her a year ago about switching from tobacco to electronic cigarettes. After smoking cigarettes for 13 years, Claus found e-cigarettes helped him kick his nicotine habit. Barb discovered she liked e-cigarettes so much she and Claus opened a store in Moorefield.

“We both smoked since young ages and it’s something that’s been effective for us and something we strongly believe in to stop smoking,” Barb said. “I decided to go into business with my little brother.”

After selling the store and buying out Claus’ share, Barb came to Front Royal and opened Royal Vapor, a retail e-cigarette store at 505 Royal Ave, on Nov. 5. Offering e-cigarettes and the liquid nicotine that goes in them, Barb said her store is part of a booming industry.

“People want to stop smoking and there’s studies that shows that e-cigarettes work a lot better than other smoking cessation products like nicotine gum or the patches,” Barb said. “I think people are getting interested in this because vapor shops are popping up everywhere.”

According to Barb, the vast majority of her customers are people who currently smoke and are now trying to kick the habit. Barb said she tries to tailor a purchase, which can run anywhere between $55 to more than $200, to the customer.

“I take the time to find out from the customer how much they smoke a day, how long do they smoke, when do they smoke and [what] do they like about smoking,” Barb said. “After you get to talking to somebody about what they like about smoking, it starts to click what they want.”

Currently, Barb sells liquid nicotine with concentrations of nicotine from 24 milligrams to no nicotine at all. Barb said while customers typically start out on a high nicotine liquid and step down to none at all, they also change their taste.

“Usually customers start out on a full flavor liquid or a menthol liquid, but they quickly switch over to sweet flavors,” Barb said. “The biggest thing I hear from my customers is they do not want that cigarette taste, they want to get as far away from that as possible.”

One argument against e-cigarettes is infusing liquid with fruit or sweet flavors will lead children to picking up the habit. Barb said she cards every customer who comes into her shop and thinks the issue is a little more complicated.

“Is it targeting children? I don’t know,” Barb said. “All of our bottles of juice say they are only for people above 18, which isn’t technically a law, but that shows how the manufacturers are trying to say, ‘We’re not marketing to children.'”

Barb said her store’s reception in Front Royal has been wonderful.

“For the short time we have been here, it’s done well,” Barb said. “They sell electronic cigarettes in every gas station from here to Timbuktu, so people are interested in us because we offer a higher quality product.”

Outside her storefront window, Barb can see cars pulling up to the stop light on Royal Avenue. Barb said she hopes her shop can attract motorists who enjoy a red-light cigarette.

“I see so many people smoking at this light every day,” Barb said. “I’d love to have them come in and at least give us a try. I know quitting smoking can be hard, but I know this worked for me.”

Royal Vapor is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com