By Alyssa Stahr, Photos by Ron C.
Can’t get to the vape? Now the vape may be coming to an area near you. Ron C. (aka Reverend Dark) is not only the owner of a brick-and-mortar establishment (Vapor St8 in Bonney Lake, Wash.), he also is an ordained minister. Like any Good Samaritan wanting to spread the word, Reverend Dark is on a mission. He is determined to help those who don’t have vape shops in their area have one come to them. The result is Vapor St8—the mobile version—a traveling vape shop that’s heading to various locations throughout the Northwest.
Reverend Dark’s crew had participated indoors as representatives of brick-and-mortar at the Western Washington Fair for two years. The fair changed its rules and wanted vendors to be outside only. Reverend Dark searched online for rolling vape shops and found none. Upon finding some concession trailers for sale, he told himself, “I can do this.”
With carnivals not allowing more than a 20 ft. trailer, Reverend Dark found a cargo trailer that was 16 ft. He, along with his crew—Isaac, Tim J., Boots and Joe took the sides off and made hydraulic windows.
“We have two display cabinets, so when you walk up to the trailer, you’re inside of the shop. I wanted something that you can tear down fast and put up fast,” Reverend Dark said.
The top 10 products in his brick-and-mortar store are incorporated in the mobile version, from starter kits to items made for seasoned vapers. “I had to incorporate for everyone who walks through from everyone who hasn’t vaped to those who have vaped for years. We rate the top 10 that are sold in our shop and I carry that to the festival,” he said. “We’ve got mechanicals and RDAs on board. We had to make a room inside a room to put a display in. We lit up the back wall and put pegs in.”
Reverend Dark said that he’s pretty shocked at the outcome, and with changes happening to the mobile shop to make it better, he’s asked around on social media and gotten a number of high fives. But, even though it was his idea, he couldn’t have implemented it all by himself.
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“It was a team thing. It was all my guys from the shop, and then I sought out a guy who welds really well. I came up with the idea, and everyone kinda stuck with me. At first, they thought I was nuts,” he said.
Reverend Dark found out about the new fair rules 28 days before the mobile store opened. The crew worked for 23, 10-hour days, paid the money to be at the fair and hoped that it worked. Wanting to mask the carnival-type atmosphere, Reverend Dark said that he tried to create something that no one else had, but he didn’t want it to look like it didn’t belong.
“We had to go through all the protocols of what the fair needed. A carnival is a carnival, and in their head, it’s about the same. I crossed my Ts with the state of Washington and what they wanted, and we went from there,” he said.
Vapor St8 mobile debuted at the Western Washington Fair in April, and since then, it’s been a whirlwind. The team just returned from a local flea market. The next stop is about 15 miles from the brick-and-mortar shop. Then, it’s on to a tri-county fair on the otherside of the state, and numerous other fairs in the area, including the Oregon State Fair. Three people always travel with the mobile shop: usually Reverend Dark, his wife and a shop employee, depending on how close the event is to the brick and-mortar location.
“I’m ecstatic. We’re getting invitations now already for next year for Idaho, Colorado, Montana. People are understanding how it’s a different kind of lifestyle for us. And our trailer looks really good, and they just want us to be a part of the festival,” he said. “I didn’t build this for anything except to go out to communities that don’t have shops; I go to festivals that don’t have shops. I try to be rolling publicity for the vaping community.”
With that, Reverend Dark has decided that he is on the lookout for another rolling vape store. He wants to put it in a different location with another full team to run it.
“Up here we have these stupid laws, and that’s another deciding factor. It’s on the line – which way is this thing going to go. We’ve already decided if Washington became another state that is taxed too much, we would take this thing on the road. We’re glad the government has laid off this year, but we’re already planning for the future,” he said.
However, the shop isn’t just about taxation and sales. It’s about spreading the word about vaping. The shop crew has received thousands of questions from people who have stopped by the mobile store—in fact, more questions than have ever been asked at their brick-and-mortar location.
“It’s more for information to get out there. A lot of people come up who have never heard of vaping. I call it my information trailer. They’re drawn to this. We want everybody to realize this is why I planned it,” Reverend Dark said. “In one fair, we took 100 packs of cigarettes from people in 72 hours. It’s the hardest thing I ever could’ve done; you’ve gotta get permits and licensing in every city you go to. It’s very trying, but it’s worth it.”
For more information, visit http://www.yelp.com/biz/vapor-st8-bonney-lake.