LAKEVIEW — A new e-cigarette shop aiming to sell "high end juices" for people looking to quit smoking will soon be opening on Sheffield.
No, they won't be selling freshly pressed organic vegetable juices, but electronic cigarettes filled with an array of flavored liquids.
Vape312 is set for a soft opening next week, and is located in a Sheffield Avenue storefront just doors away from the office of Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who recently voted in favor of more electronic cigarette regulations.
The store, at 3221 N. Sheffield Ave., will have an official grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 15, said Tang Wong, owner of the new shop.
Wong, 41, became interested in e-cigarettes after the battery-operated devices helped his wife quit smoking regular cigarettes, he said. The Des Plaines resident had seen how popular e-cigarette shops became in California and started looking at opening his own in Chicago.
Shops dedicated to e-cigarettes have popped up quickly in the past year here, but not nearly to the extent that they have on the West Coast, Wong said.
"Chicago's just begun," Wong said.
Its owners hope Vape312 will be a warm, homey place where adults aiming to quit smoking can try 60 to 80 different types of e-cigarette juice, all from "high-end" brands that use FDA-approved ingredients and pharmaceutical-grade equipment, Wong said.
It will have tasting counters and stations for people to try out flavors from key lime pie to melon.
Plus, Wong saw a need for a place where knowledgeable employees could better educate customers, he said.
Of course, Wong has heard about recent city crackdowns to regulate e-cigarettes. Now, vape lounges must have tobacco licenses in addition to retail ones in order for customers to legally use e-cigarettes indoors.
Wong thinks the FDA's test will eventually show that the vapor from e-cigarettes do not cause significant harm, he said, and that there's no need to pre-regulate.
"They are implying that electronic cigarette companies are geared toward minors," he said. "That’s complete bogus."
But in spite of that, he still plans to open at least two more locations of Vape312 in the city and suburbs, he said.
And he did know that his office near Tunney's ward office, 3223 N. Sheffield Ave. He laughed and said he hoped the alderman was "pro-e-cigarette."
Alas, he was informed that Tunney voted for more regulations.
"Ahh," Wong said. "No, it doesn't [worry me]. We're not doing anything against the law."
All juices, starter kits and accessories will be 20 percent off during Vape312's grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Starter kits range from $29 to $80, and 15 milliliter products of the so-called cigarette juice expected to last two weeks cost $12.