FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Sovereign Vapors , looking to make its mark as Connecticut’s first vapor smoking lounge, has opened its doors above the Robeks on the Post Road in Fairfield.
The unusual new business will be celebrating its grand opening Saturday night.
The goal behind the lounge, co-owner Anthony Holdampf said, is ultimately to help smokers to kick the habit. But he also hopes to provide a place where people can go to hang out and enjoy themselves. And since Sovereign Vapors opened two weeks ago, business has been steady.
“We’re trying to provide a cleaner alternative to smoking,” said Holdampf, a Fairfield resident.
Co-owner Marcos Garcia explained that the vaporizer liquids have 0 to 18 milligrams of nicotine, while the normal cigarette has 24 milligrams. “The understanding is that we are in the business of getting people to quit smoking,” Garcia said.
Opening a vaporizer lounge wasn’t in the plan for either of them. Holdampf said he had spent 12 years running a gym in Westport, and Garcia is a musician.
In October, longtime smoker Garcia told Holdampf about his new vaporizer, which was helping him to get off cigarettes. That sparked an interest for Holdampf because of his work in the health business.
After exhaustive research into vaporizers, Holdampf called Garcia and asked him to start the business with him. It took several weeks, but Garcia ultimately agreed. By April 1, they had signed a lease and were putting the lounge together.
They started with kiosks in the Trumbull and Milford malls during the holiday season, selling their starter kits for $25. “People really enjoyed them,” Holdampf said. “The first response was always ‘Wow!’”
But it took more than just gathering people's opinions to get the lounge started. The two traveled around the United States, meeting manufacturers of vaporizer liquids.
The needed to do their homework because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is beginning to regulate the industry, Holdampf said. The liquids used in the vaporizers are made up of four ingredients - propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavors and in most instances, nicotine.
When it came to the flavors, “we were looking for something that people can do on a regular basis,” Holdampf said. That means complex flavors, not just the single flavors that can be purchased from gas stations or convenient stores, he said.
“We’re trying to give the best experience and the best quality,” Holdampf said. This includes helping customers to find the best vaporizer for them. The vaporizers range in price from $25 to $375.
The store is located at 1981 Post Road and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.