The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

February 20, 2014

Business brisk at Mankato's first e-cig store

Anyone wanting to try electronic cigarettes will need to learn a new vocabulary that includes terms such as clearomizer head, RDA atomizer, mods, drip tip and smoke juice.

“This isn’t the typical smoke shop,” said Scott Meschke, general manager of the newly opened Ecig Crib in Mankato.

E-cigarettes have grown from obscurity five years ago to $500 million in sales in 2012 and over $1.5 billion last year. E-cigarettes sales are expected to top traditional cigarette sales within the next decade.

Since opening the first exclusively electronic cigarette store in Mankato this week, Ecig Crib has been busy with Meschke and several employees waiting on a steady stream of customers.

Ecig Crib has a spacious showroom with a counter displaying the battery-powered devices used to deliver a vapor from flavored juices containing nicotine. Some resemble cigarettes or cigars while others are larger and can contain various adapters that hold larger batteries and other add-ons. A basic kit costs $10 with custom kits with cases selling for nearly $200.

Nearby is a room lined with bottles of juice in 140 flavors. “We can mix and match the level of nicotine they want from 2 milligrams up to 24.”

Meschke said someone trying to quit tobacco who smokes two packs a day might start with a 15-milligram e-cigarette mixture. “They work their way down to zero.”

Myron Siemieniewski of Eagle Lake has smoked for 30 years and tried quitting many times. He was testing some flavors and trying out a vaporizer.

“It’s different, it’s not like tobacco smoke. But the flavors are good, I’m trying the pipe tobacco flavor. It’s kind of sweet,” Siemieniewski said.

“It costs about $70 to get started with this. I figure that’s only about 10 packs of cigarettes.”

Customers can test various flavors for free, using tiny bottles of juice containing no nicotine attached to a vaporizer. Because Mankato recently passed an ordinance banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors in public buildings, customers have to go out a side door to try the different flavors. (North Mankato this week delayed a decision on issue.)

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