Retirees open vape shop in Florala

Published 12:02 am Friday, November 14, 2014

A Florala couple recently opened a business with the idea “the more products you have to sell, the more chances you have of surviving.”

Laura and Jim Slater bought a building in Florala earlier this year and took over MJ Stitchery, renaming the establishment Slater’s Emporium.

The Slaters’ original plan was to open a vape shop, but the purchase of the building came with the remaining scrubs, sewing supplies and a variety of other items that they have incorporated into their store.

“We’re always trying to add new things,” Laura said. “We’ll even be offering gift certificates for anything people might like.”

The couple decided to open a vape shop after retiring from their aerospace engineering careers, realizing life would be a little “boring” and noticing the trend in using vaporizers.

“They’ve been around a while, but vape has become more popular recently,” Laura said. “ I think it’s just become more socially acceptable.”

Laura said vaping is used by many as an alternative to smoking by supplementing the nicotine from cigarettes, and simulating the hand-to-mouth action for which smokers are accustomed.

The vape pen uses a liquid mixed with small amounts of nicotine or no nicotine and food-grade flavoring.

The liquid then gets vaporized in a small, battery- powered atomizer to simulate the experience of smoking. The vapor created is inhaled and exhaled much like cigarette smoke, hence the term vaping as opposed to smoking.

The shop offers many varieties of “vape pens,” and more than 60 flavors of the liquid, including the store’s most popular flavors – strawberry banana, watermelon mojito, Cat 5 Hurricane, banana pudding and “the sky is falling.”

“We offer free sampling, and we sample without nicotine,” Laura said. “There are people that don’t want nicotine, but we do offer a variety of nicotine levels.”

The goal of 90 percent of people who buy the vape pens is to stop smoking, Jim said.

“They are slowly lowering their nicotine intake with vaping,” he said.

“I equate it to the nicotine patch,” Laura said. “But the patch isn’t satisfying that hand-to-mouth action, so I think this gives them what they feel they’re missing.”

She said many people try vaping and it doesn’t work for them, but others love it.

The scrub and sewing supply side of the business has been going well for the couple as well.

“We offer medical scrubs and accessories, including brands like NRG, Grey’s Anatomy and Koi,” Laura said. “We do have men’s scrubs, and sizes varying from XXS to 5XL. We have anything from petite to tall.”

There is a large selection of medical shoes, and the couple has plans to expand their shoe department to include everyday shoes.

The sewing supplies include everything from needles and buttons to fabric, patterns, floss and ribbon.

“We even have an embroidery machine,” Laura said.

The shop also includes creations by local artists like hand carved wooden pens, photographs from surrounding areas and paintings by Crestview native, Rita Benz.

“We’ve met all kinds of nice people,” Laura said. “If we meet one new person, it’s been a good day.

“We have some regular customers, and it’s so nice seeing them visit,” she said. “I try to remember everyone’s normal requests, and give personalized attention to customers that need help.”

The shop is located at 23220 Fifth Ave. in Florala, next to Ranch House Restaurant, and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact the store at 334-858-3344.