Muskego women try to clear the air with smokeless shop
E-cigarette venture motivated in part by cancer death in family
Muskego — Regardless of whatever personal level success they have in their new business venture, two Muskego sisters certainly can count on one thing: It won't go up in smoke.
A grand opening was held Saturday for what is believed to be the first brick-and-mortar shop in the area that exclusively sells electronic cigarettes.
Susanna Ryan and Julie Deutsch, siblings who co-own the Wind Lake shop called Brew City Vape, have never operated a business out of a storefront before. They were stay-at-home moms who began selling e-cigarettes out of their homes about a year ago.
Their motivation then and now is the same. "Our main goal is to get people off tobacco," Ryan said.
Deutsch lost her first husband to lung cancer, and her sister recalls the impact that had on everyone.
"That was devastating to our family," Ryan said. "It's personal — we lost a great man."
The sisters were afraid the same nightmare would happen to Julie's second husband, Ron, a 21/2-pack-a-day smoker — that is until he tried his first e-cigarette last September.
E-cigarettes are a smokeless option to smoking. Instead of inhaling tobacco smoke, the user inhales flavored water vapor warmed by the battery-powered device. E-cigarettes use cartridges or tips filled with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals.
For the past year, Ron Deutsch hasn't smoked a regular cigarette thanks to the electronic alternative.
"I feel like I never quit smoking," Deutsch said. "I have no sensations to smoke a real cigarette like most ex-smokers do when they go to quit. ... And I loved my cigarettes."
He admits he was a little jittery at first, but within a month, "I had no desire to smoke, not even a little bit."
Ron added: "I wish I would have done this years ago," noting he sleeps and generally feels better. "It's incredible, the energy level I have."
Ron's success made them wonder, Ryan said, "How many lives could we save?"
On the other end of the stick, a lot of people wonder about the safety of e-cigarettes.
Skeptics include the American Cancer Society, which supported a proposed ban on their sale in state of New York.
"There is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for traditional cigarettes or an effective smoking cessation tool," said Russ Sciandra, American Cancer Society New York State director of advocacy, in a statement on the American Cancer Society website.
In initial testing, the FDA found detectable levels of carcinogens and other toxic chemicals in two brands of e-cigarettes and numerous cartridges, the information on the American Cancer Society website says.
But Ryan said that has to be balanced against the more than 4,000 chemicals, some known to cause cancer, in the average tobacco cigarette.
Sitting and sampling
The sisters started Brew City Vape — the "vape" name comes from the flavored vapors that come through the e-cigs — nearly a year ago as a home business. They soon found they liked the informal personal touch with customers who came to sample their product line, Ryan said.
People often made appointments to stop by.
"They came to the house and sat around the kitchen table," Ryan said. "They would have a cup of coffee and chit-chat."
After deciding to set up a shop in Wind Lake in a former tanning studio, they kept those friendly customer experience in mind. "We wanted to re-create that," Ryan said.
So the store offersa tasting bar, equipped with stools where customers can sit down, relax and try the many flavors on hand.
Even though their shop is in a relatively rural area on Highway 36 and Fries Lane, the sisters hope customers will flock to them because they encourage smokers to sample the e-cigarette flavors before they buy.
The flavorings cost $11.95 a bottle, so it's good to know that you will like the taste before you buy, Ryan said. That bottle will last a pack-a-day smoker about two weeks, she estimated.
So far, the shop has 12 flavors to try — including cherry, vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, apple-strawberry and coffee, with disposable cigarette tips.
The shop also sells all the equipment anyone will need to switch to e-cigarettes.
It has both the standard battery e-cigarette, which looks like a regular cigarette, and the more cigar-like, jumbo-battery e-cigs, plus two types of tips in which the flavored liquid is poured in. It has chargers for the rechargeable batteries and needles for filling bottles.
The sisters say they searched all over for quality products at good prices, Ryan said. There's a huge difference in prices on the Internet and at smoke shops, she said. The Brew City kits that include at least one e-cigarette, a rechargeable battery and charger and tip start at $14.95 to a top price of $69 for two jumbo batteries with liquids and charger.
Five packs of standard or cartomizer tips, each one of which can be filled 10 to 15 times, go for $6.95.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- News & Notes: Dec. 2
- Announcements kick off elections in Muskego
- Third Muskego lake park idea goes under
- Muskego School Board president won't seek re-election
- Prime land can only sit and wait in Muskego
- News & Notes: Nov. 28
- Muskego mayor announces intention to run for second term
- News & Notes: Nov. 18
- Muskego's Christmas celebration has a golden touch
- Muskego's Jammin' fest finds life after construction