Tribune Tribute: Wyatt Smith
by Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter
Wyatt Smith of State Road may be among the youngest entrepreneurs in Elkin.
He just opened a small retail store on Court Street in downtown Elkin proving age is nothing but a number.
Smith sells electronic cigarettes. He is only 19 years old. He believes his product is the best alternative for smokers addicted to nicotine.
The store is called The Tapering Vapor.
“If you look at our sign, it tapers at the end of it. So I thought it was a creative name,” said Smith.
The Tapering Vapor held its grand opening last Saturday relying on a Facebook announcement. According to Smith, he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came in steadily to greet him and purchase his product.
“I grew up in Elkin and went to Elkin High School for a short time. I was home schooled the rest of the way. I went to college for a bit, but I wanted to pursue my own business,” said Smith. “I do know many people around here, though.”
Armed with a business plan, a product, and with parents supporting Smith’s venue, he set out to find a budget neutral location to establish his business.
“I looked all up and down on Main Street and really liked the bigger and better space, but with business you have to be practical,” he said.
“My product is an alternative to smoking. It contains no tobacco. We have a selection of flavoring. You can add nicotine or not. It’s totally up to the consumer,” said Smith.
“I’ve met a ton of people who went from smoking cigarettes to this and have never looked back. My mom was a pack per day and my father smoked a couple of packs a day. My parents easily switched over, and I realized how big of a market potential the business is,” said Smith.
According to the ambitious business owner, the closest shop selling a similar product is in King.
“I believe the distance between the two locations makes serious sense. This is the perfect place for me,” he said.
Customers who follow Smith and The Tapering Vapor on Facebook have been visiting the store and purchasing items.
“I am actually getting quite a lot of business. The electronic cigarette tastes and smells better. Once people familiarize themselves with it, it’s a hit,” said Smith.
According to Smith, his most popular demographic included ages from 20 to 40. However, customers up to age 60 have purchased from him. He said that his success depends on engaging current smokers to discover the alternative, as opposed to teaching people to start puffing when they’ve never smoked.
“I started out at the 2.4 mg of nicotine. Now I’m at a 1.8 mg. Depending on how much nicotine you want is what we can add,” said Ginger Smith, Wyatt’s mother. “I’m a school teacher. I stop by to help out my son during my lunch break.”
Smith sells a single electronic cigarette, but most people opt in for kits. The kit sells for about $50. It includes a charger that allows use of the unit while its charging.
“It’s not about the puffing. It’s about the flavors,” said Smith.
Custom flavors are available and mixed at the retail store. Waiting time is minimal. Flavors include: banana nut bread, cool tropical breeze, caramel apple, strawberry decadence, vape-a-chino, pina colada, and others.
Each order is mixed to the specifics of the consumer.
The retail store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10-6 p.m, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday’s.
Records show that the business is a registered corporation in North Carolina.
“I will be adjusting the hours depending on the demand. If more of my customers are stuck at work, I’ll be putting hours on my door that will be mostly convenient for them,” he said.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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