Feb. 25, 2015 By Michael Florio
It’s not smoke and mirrors.
An Astoria e-cigarette shop is about to open its second store in the neighborhood to keep pace with high demand.
City Vape, which opened its first store in January last year at 31-88 37th Street (near Broadway), is expanding into a different part of Astoria.
The new location will be at 29-20 23rd Ave, just around the corner from the 31st Street- Ditmars subway station. It is expected to open within two weeks, said Spiro Dongaris, the owner.
Dongaris said he elected to open the store near Ditmars Blvd because he has a lot of customers who travel from that area to his current location.
“Those customers are very excited that we are opening here,” he said.
The new store is large and will have a vape lounge, featuring couches, tables, chairs and big screen TV’s.
“The lounge can be used for people to host vape meets or just hang out and vape,” Dongaris said. “It’s a great opportunity to meet other vapers in the community.”
Dongaris said that he likes the 23rd Avenue location—not just because of its size—but for its proximity to the subway and the high pedestrian traffic it draws.
Furthermore, the second City Vape store is far enough away from the original location that it won’t cannibalize business, he said
“One can cater to the north side of Astoria and the other to the south,” he said.
Dongaris said that the first store has been very successful since it opened, and he believes that success will carry over to the new location.
“There is a high demand for our products in Astoria,” he said. “More people will now have the opportunity to be introduced to our products.”
The new location will sell the same items as the original store—although it will have a larger selection. It will offer up to 40 different brands of e-liquids, with well over 200 flavors, Dongaris said.
A grand opening vape meet is in the works, but no date has been set. Dongaris said it will likely be a month or two after opening.
While Dongaris and his customers are big fans of the products, lawmakers are looking clamp down on the industry—which could ultimately put him out of business.
Councilman Costa Constantinides introduced a bill last October that would ban all flavored products, which accounts for most of them.
“We will treat them the same way we treat regular cigarettes,” Constantinides said back in October. “They call themselves e-cigarettes. They’ve chosen to associate with the cigarette industry.”
Dongaris, who claims e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, said he is concerned that lawmakers might ultimately ban them. However, he said, he cannot let that fear prevent him from growing his business.
“You have to be optimistic,” he said. “My staff and I believe there is a desire for this product within the community and they will fight this bill.”
“A ban on this product would force people to go back to smoking cigarettes,” he added.