WARNING:  This product contains nicotine, Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

How to Start a Vape Shop? A guide to the steps and cost of opening a vape shop.

12th May 2022 | 154 | upends v

Vaping is perhaps one of the most profitable alternatives to traditional smoking. Why is this so? Because of one of the economics principles, demand.

While the estimated number of global smokers decreases, the vaping industry enjoys a different "track." Vaping is becoming increasingly popular for various reasons, and thus it enjoys an equally increasing number of customers. The number of e-cigarette users for 2018 alone is almost six-fold of the estimated 7 million users in 2011. And that number is expected to further increase to around 55 million this year despite the new levies and regulations.

Is it worth it to open an e-cigarette store? Is this business profitable?

You probably notice that vape shops are opening and appearing everywhere, just like mushrooms. And there is a good reason for that. What you see is almost the same for most cities and countries. Vape shops are one of the fastest-growing business trends today. According to the 2016 research by Quartz, there are around 2.7 vape shops per bowling alley in the US alone. And the reason for this business trend, vaping is now part of mainstream culture.

The vaping industry is quite controversial, but you should not be shooed by it. Instead, be like those many business-minded people (both new and established) who realized vaping's true potential. Many of the first vaping startups now have their branch stores. And many want to copy and experience the success they are enjoying right now. Numbers do not lie; vaping is no longer a fad but a trend. And this implies many things why you should get your ball rolling for this business.

Statistics show that vaping enjoys an increasing number of customers. Meaning to say, there is enough demand to drive the sales and price up. Moreover, vape "patrons" are ready to buy their vaping paraphernalia for whatever price. The cost is still a consideration, but if it is worth it, most users are prepared to spend some bucks even if the vaping article is a bit steep. And when these two are combined, increasing demand and a loyal pool of customers, the revenue can't be anything but good.

Like a typical business, you would need to use some of your wealth as capital. However, suppose you managed the factors properly and considered some of the basics like location, pricing, target customers, overall place, promos, marketing, etc. In that case, there is no doubt that you would get back the entire chunk of your investment together with a good amount of revenue.

Vaping is already a lucrative industry, and it is on track to become more lucrative. Some estimate that global vaping sales will reach a whopping $40 billion by 2023 and $61.4 billion by 2025. So, based on data, this could very well be your success story.

So, if you want a chunk of this growing and lucrative industry, you should probably open your own vape shop. But if you do not know how do not fret, the 7 steps below will guide you on your goal of opening that vape shop.


Here are 7 steps to open a vape shop:

Opening a vape shop is like opening any other business; it is not easy. Having the capital does not mean that you can already build your shop. Hence, it would help if you familiarized yourself with business things. You also need to comply with specific documentary requirements to satisfy the different regulations that govern the industry. But regulation is just one thing; taxes, logistical concerns, suppliers are also factors you need yourself to get into to establish your business. Hence, establishing and opening a vape shop is a challenge.

However, despite being challenging, it could also be rewarding. This year, there is an estimated 55 million users of vape shop worldwide, with the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and China leading the world's sales. And all of the vape enthusiasts in these countries, together with the remaining users worldwide, need businesses to supply their vaping needs. And that lucrative market is your target, so keep in mind the steps and costs below as you get the ball rolling for your vape shop.


  1. Before starting a vape business, create a business plan first.

Typically, we would suggest that you first need to choose a name, business structure, and the likes; however, not for this one. While all of those things are essential, some things thrash it, research and business plan.

Opening a vape shop is unlike opening other businesses in terms of the industry. Vaping is a popular and growing industry but an intensely controversial one. In the past years, it came under scrutiny and new regulations and levies. As such, you must put extra effort into research and writing your business plan.

Depending on your business's location, you might get to pay a low excise tax or a super-high. Hence it would help if you learned about taxes since, in some cases, you would need to pay national taxes together with levies from the state and local governments. And their taxes could be computed as a percentage of the total value of the product's wholesale or per milliliter of liquid. If the taxes are low, then good; however, it is bad news if the levies are high. High levies would weigh heavily on the business, and people frown upon it since, naturally, that would mean higher prices for your products.

So, in your plan, write your goals and the problems that would hinder you from achieving these goals. Once you have enumerated the difficulties, think of ways on how you will overcome them. Moreover, gauge the competition in your area and see whether there is enough demand that your business can fill.

Once these works are finished, you can proceed with the naming of your vape shop. Just make sure that the name you are going to use is available. After the name, decide whether your business would be a limited liability company, a sole proprietorship, or others. The structure that you would choose has its pros and cons, so be sure to weigh them.


  1. Register your Business and Get your tobacco license.

Once you're done with your plan, you start executing it. When executing your plan to open your vape shop, the first step is registering it to authorities and complying with the requirements by securing business licenses and permits.

Suppose you think that you can handle the taxes. In that case, you need to register your vape shop at both local and national levels since they have their own regulations for selling vape products. It would be best if you familiarized yourself with these regulations. And this is partly the reason why this step is one of the hardest.

Some regulators consider e-cigarettes and vapes as tobacco products; thus, you must obtain your tobacco license or tobacco retail authorization (TRA). In countries like Canada, a tobacco license is a “document” that serves as an authorization to manufacture tobacco products. In the USA, tobacco license requirements are different per state, but they are all similar in spirit and regulation. In complying with a tobacco license, you can search the states’ websites to see their particular requirements. Some US states allow online applications for tobacco licenses making the process easier.

To have a tobacco license, you will also need to pay some fees. Fees vary per state; they are also different per type (retailer, supplier, distributor, etc.). Some states like Oregon have a statewide tobacco retail license fee of $953.00 (starting on January 1, 2022), and Nevada with a $50.00 licensing fee for tobacco retail dealers. 

In the case of wholesale dealers, they need to secure a tobacco wholesale dealer permit or license. The requirements for a tobacco wholesale dealer permit or license are almost the same as retailers, but there are other things that applicants must have. The fee they need to settle is also higher. Tobacco wholesale dealer permit or license fee varies per state. Some states like Nevada collect a $650.00 license fee for wholesale dealers of cigarettes and wholesale dealers of other tobacco products.

  1. Choose a location

The location has a crucial role when it comes to business, so pick a good one. Choose a place where there is enough traffic, enough demand, has parking space and has an inviting façade or storefront. Vaping is trending and is still growing, so many are looking for locations like you, thus, be wise and be fast.

In addition to the same stores, you also need to compete with other establishments like gas stations and convenience stores that sell the same products. So, take time to do competitive analysis, identify your competitors, and identify the most optimal location.

  1. Stock your vape shop with products and assess their cost

Suppose you are already done with the plan, the registrations, and the location. In that case, you can now proceed with stocking up your business. But before that, you need to calculate your startup costs. The cost of establishing and opening a vape shop is different for different shops. Still, there are definite expenses that you need to account for, like store rent, license and registration fees, payroll, taxes, system, and initial inventory. In your initial inventory, the cost is tied with the following products that you need to stock. These products are;

  • Hardware (Pod system, mod tank)

  • Replacement coils

  • E-liquids (vape juice)


  • Vape batteries


  • Battery chargers


  1. Get a business insurance

When you are thinking of opening up a business like a vape shop, you also need to think of the kind of business insurance policy you will need and factor its cost into your budget. And you have more reason to do it since, according to data, vape shops pay more when it comes to insurance compared to other retail shops. However, the real and specific value of your insurance will rely more on factors such as projected revenue, the value, type, and amount of the products in your inventory, and the value of your equipment and property.


Though you can avail of insurance offered by general insurance companies, you must also consider niche insurance brokers who provide policies towards specific industry sectors. An example of these policies is those that cover vape shop properties, vape juices, health hazards, defective products, and location.


  1. Get adequate funding

Of course, a business would not thrive without adequate funding. While you can use your own money as capital, it should not be the case every time. Your business needs enough funding to maintain the place, pay fees, and expand the inventory. So, you must find an additional source of funding as the initial revenue would not be able to cover everything. And while this sounds easy, it is actually not.


Despite being a trending business, as we said, vape shops are involved in some controversies. Though the profitability is high, most banks put vape shop business in the riskiest category. This only means one thing, difficulty in getting approval from lenders and financial institutions.


Another reason different from the risk factor is that your business is a startup. In short, it is still a nobody. And trusting a nobody would be challenging, especially if it involves money. Though the projected sale might be high, though there is a demand, the point is the business haven't proved anything yet. You are a startup, and startups do not have the credentials to back what they claim; you do not have the credibility that you will be able to pay the money that you are going to borrow.


Some online lenders make money available for vape shops, but it would be far-fetched whether they would lend money to a startup. Given these reasons, the best thing to do is find an alternative source of funding. You could do crowdsourcing and bootstrapping. You could also get your friends and relatives to get on board. These ways are popular and attainable, so try them if you need to inject some bucks into your business.


However, suppose you are looking for a true business loan. In that case, you can opt for a business credit card if you want to separate business and personal finances. You can use a business credit card to pay for business expenses but be sure that you can handle it. Pay your card regularly and in full so you can have enough credibility for lenders to believe that you and your business are good investments.



  1. Find reliable vape wholesale suppliers and order quality inventory

You are a retailer, and that means you are sourcing your products from another entity. And this means a lot. A reliable supplier could have a tremendous effect on your business. They could affect your rating, customers, reviews, and popularity. So, be sure to build a good connection and network with various trusted and tested suppliers.


But before you find your supplier, determine first the kind of articles you are going to sell. And this depends not only on your opinion; make sure that the products you chose to be part of your inventory are not there simply because you want to use them. You provide products for a community, so you better ensure that your products appeal to enough people to generate at least enough revenue. You can do market research or ask those vape fans around your location to get an idea of this. Ask them about what they are looking for, the things they find missing in other shops, and the vape paraphernalia that would excite them.


After the research, get the products and include them in your initial inventory. In addition, source at least a variety of e-cigarette starter kits and customizable kits. Include a variety of vape juices, batteries, and mods too.


Once you determine the products you will buy, you need to find an entity that fits your business, target customers, location, etc. You need to find a supplier which offers products that the customers would love. Moreover, you have to ascertain whether their capacity can cover your orders and the orders of the other stores they are supplying. The last thing that you would want is your supplier running out of stock or becoming unreliable. Hence, do not be hasty when choosing a supplier. You have to be careful since that decision would be vital for you and your business. Take your time when you find the supplier you are going to work with. Try doing some preliminary research, or try asking your favorite vape shops.


While you can opt to source all of your articles from a single supplier, you can still order different ones for different products. And one way to find suppliers for this is through the web. You could look for suppliers for a variety of vape products on the internet. And to help you, below are some of the top and most popular vape suppliers;



Years in Business

Main Products

Shenzhen Iplay Technology Co., Ltd.  

5 years

CBD Vape cartridge, CBD vape battery, CBD disposable vape pen


Shanghai Joygoal Food Machinery Co., Ltd.  


11 years

Packaging machines

Shenzhen Simeiyue Technology Co., Ltd.  

10 years

Electronic cigarettes, disposable vapes, vape pens,

Shenzhen Uniondevelop Technology Company, Limited  

Contact Details


3 years

CBD vape cartridge, CBD vape battery, CBD vape pod, CBD vape mod

Shenzhen Tinoo Industry Co., Ltd  

4 years

CBD cartridge, 510 battery, cartridge packaging

Dongguan Ganyue Electronic Technology Co., Ltd.  

3 years

CBD cartridge, 510 battery, disposable pen,


Shenzhen Relaxo Technology Co., Ltd.  


9 years

Disposable electronic cigarette, vape pen, CBD batteries, electronic cigarette accessories, electronic cigarette


When you already have a credible and trustworthy supplier, you can move to find brands that you would add to your initial inventory. In this, it is best to choose a strong and fast-growing brand. These brands will provide promotional support, constant innovation and development of products, market trends, and favorable prices to assist your growth. And UPENDS is one of them.


Click here to become our partner:

Click here to contact us and see more latest products:

Uppen Plus is one of the best products that UPENDS offers. It has an MTL Pod system that is conceived from Uppen's core genes coupled with its own distinct style.

You can trust that its EtchipTM coil will give you an original and fresh taste. It guarantees a satisfying puff with its versatility. It also features an innovative metal cap that effectively protects e-liquid from exposure to the air when not in use. It also has an added function that protects you and your pod from dust and dirt to ensure a dust-free and bacteria-free experience.


How to Start a vape shop online

Some of the steps above only pertain to opening a vape shop physically. As you know, you can now have a store without putting a physical shop, and that is the same when opening a vape shop online. When you are not fond of putting a physical store or do not have enough budget to cover the maintaining, operating, and other expenses of setting up a physical store, you can always open an online vape shop. The process is the same; despite being online, you still need to secure licenses and permits. In addition, you need to follow the rules and regulations in your place and the rules and regulations where you are shipping your articles to. 

Moreover, you will need to set up an e-commerce website where you can sell your products. This adds another layer of work and cost if you do not know how to create one. But lucky for you, there are already existing e-commerce websites that can host your business. Once you are done with it, like physical stores, you need to market and advertise your online vape shop while complying with the laws and regulations. And because of the nature of vape products, you need to add some requirements like age verification in your online shop.

Opening a vape shop online costs cheaper than setting up a physical store. Still, it would be great if you kept track of the online competition. Thus, you have to constantly innovate and build credibility that sets your vape shop apart from others. It might be energy-taxing, but it is nonetheless good for profit.


How much does it cost to open a smoke shop?

The fortune you are going to spend to open a vape shop or smoke shop is not cheap. It requires not only startup capital but investment capital too to support further growth. Thus, it would help if you were mindful of it.  And to help you, here are some of the things or areas you are expected to spend some of your capital when opening a vape shop or smoke shop (US).



Cost ($)

Startup costs



Legal expenses and accounting


Build-out fees


Initial inventory


Storage Hardware


Store equipment


Monthly Costs











Point-of-sale system








This is just a rough estimate, but if you are serious about opening a vape shop or smoke shop, you can go to the market or try contacting suppliers and relevant individuals to have a better picture of the prices. Who knows, you might be able to get a better deal.