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September 21, 2016
When Shane and I moved to the country years back, our first introduction to the community was at the post office. A small, very old shack-style building up the road and just off the highway housed all the area’s post office boxes and was a hub for casual community gatherings and news exchange. They knew a surprising amount about us before we even arrived. Along with a warm welcome, the keys to our mailbox, and a bit of information about the area, the postwoman recommended that we stop by the local mall. She threw back her head and laughed before giving us a wink while we exchanged looks and promised that we would.
We followed the directions, down the highway and then a good ways along a gravel road. Turns out, calling it the local mall is a bit of an inside joke. It’s a tiny little store that has somehow managed to stock more items than you’d think possible. I suspect whomever organized the place was a master Tetris-player in their day. They stock everything from milk and tomato sauce to hammers and mouse traps, along with the area’s bottled water supply, and outside of the store there are wheelbarrows, water tanks, and cattle gates.
We’d been in the area a few weeks when I nipped in to the store to pick up some supplies. It was the dead of Canadian winter, the roads weren’t great, and I wanted to stock up on a few items so that we wouldn’t have to drive to the closest town- close being a relative term out here. As I loaded my items onto the counter, the woman at the cash told me that they were almost out of a particular product (I can’t recall what it was now). I agreed, yep- indeed they were. So could I just take one, she asked, so that there would be some left for others?
I must have turned every shade of red but quickly nodded. Of course. But it had honestly never occurred to me. What had occurred to me is that they were almost out of an item that I use regularly and if I didn’t stock up, I’d have to make the longer trip to town. I wasn’t thinking about what my neighbours might or might not need while I was doing our shopping- just one of many occasions my city roots managed to embarrass me. I’ve learned a lot over the years, both of us have, but one of the biggest lessons has been about community. We are both an isolated and vastly spread community and we need to look out for each other, and we do.
As geographically isolated as we are these days, we’re tighter with our communities than we ever were in past and that includes our vape family but also those we’ve yet to welcome to the community. With all of the regulations around vaping that have either already come down or are being proposed, there’s a good chance the industry won’t survive. And you know what? Shane and I could still vape.
Shane handcrafts coils for a living so we’ll never be without coils, he can also make box mods, we know people who make e-juice, we know a lot of people in general so the black market is never hard to find… We could still vape. No need for us, thankfully, to return to smoking. And I’m a microbiologist by trade and Shane a GIS analyst, and we’ve both worked myriad jobs over the years… The vape industry isn’t our only option for work- it just happens to be what we want to do, what we’re passionate about. Yes, we’ve put everything we have into the business- both money and heart- but ultimately if the industry died, we’d figure out a way to get by. A lot of our friends would too.
But what about those who have yet to put down the cigarettes? What options would they be left with? The same ineffective ones they’ve had access to for years? If those things worked, would a vape industry ever have been created in the first place, let alone grown and thrived the way that it has? That’s what we think about when we’ve put countless hours into the business and are running low on energy. When it comes to the choice between advocacy and a long overdue rest, we think about the members of our community who are yet to come. And they will come, if the industry survives.
There’s a lot of fun to be had within the subculture that has grown out of the vaping industry. We love the show and tell of new hardware, tasty new products, cloud comps… It’s pretty great and a nice way to inject some levity into our days. And how fabulous that we get to connect with interesting and fun people from all over the world! But we’re ever mindful that we’re up against some serious players who would like to shut down the industry and we’re not just fighting for ourselves and members our extended vape family- we’re fighting for the people who have yet to join us.
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