A Medford vape shop remained open through the sales ban. Now, with new restrictions, it will close anyway, its owner says.

"It feels like it's a never-ending fight."

Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop. Seth Wenig / AP, File

Vick’s Vape Shop in Medford has remained open over the last two-and-a-half months — just barely.

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Gov. Charlie Baker’s ban on all vaping product sales meant the large majority of its inventory became off-limits overnight back in September.

But even though the store still stands unlike others forced to shutter their doors, co-owner Linda Vick doesn’t consider things these days as “surviving.”

Vick and her husband, Jeffrey, go often three, sometimes four, days without a customer in their shop, where they’ve been selling marijuana accessories in the interim, she said.

“We’re lucky if we make $100 bucks a week now,” she told Boston.com Tuesday.

Now, even after state officials announced last week that the ban will lift on Dec. 11 as new regulations on e-cigarette sales roll in, Vick’s Vape Shop will close for good by month’s end.

Under a law recently signed by Baker, the new rules are slated to usher in a 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarette distributors and to prohibit retailers like the Vicks from selling flavored tobacco and vape products.

The flavor ban, officials say, is needed to curtail the rising trend of e-cigarette use among adolescents and teenagers, who they say have been lured into addiction by the tobacco industry.

With the strict regulations coming in, the Vicks just don’t see a way they could keep their small business afloat.

They announced in a Facebook post Tuesday they will stop all sales on Dec. 29, citing the excise tax and the latest ban as chief reasons for their decision.


Their prices would no longer be competitive, and the business no longer viable if they stuck around, the post says.

“(The tax) would end up going to the customer because we would have increased the prices on the products,” Vick said in an interview. “So either way, people aren’t going to pay what we were going to pay on top of what they had to pay.”

Posted by Vicks Vape Shop on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The couple opened the shop in 2017. They’ve used the flexibility of being their own bosses — and their income — to support their 3-year-old son, Noah, who is autistic.

When Baker announced the initially four-month sales ban in September, Vick said the family decided to try to stick it out, to see what would come next.

The state stopped sales amid a national outbreak of vaping-associated lung injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since marked vitamin E acetate as “a chemical of concern” among the reported cases — an additive commonly found in products sold on the black market.

The CDC has not made a distinction on whether regulated, legal products are safe, though.

Later, when the flavor ban bill was on Baker’s desk last week, the Vicks hoped, to no avail, that even if there were harsher restrictions, Baker would let flavored products remain on their shelves.

“A lot of people are angry,” Vick said. “What about flavored alcohol? What about, you know, even Oreo cookies? … If they’re going to control everything a teenager does, then they’re going to have to control alcohol, junk food, fast food. It’s up to the parents to educate their children.”


The Vicks considered moving their business up to New Hampshire and even looked at a few possible locations.

But they had another thought: What if the law changes there, too?

“It seems like they’re always coming after vaping, so it feels like it’s a never-ending fight and is it really worth it?” Vick said. “Who knows, the governor of New Hampshire might turn around and ban it and then (we) just spent all this money to open a new place.”

When they received an offer to take over their storefront lease, they took the opportunity, she said.

In September, Vick’s Vape Shop was one of the first businesses to join a lawsuit against state officials over how the ban was rolled out.

Vick hopes she may recoup at least some of the $200,000 she lost in inventory under the ban, she said.

Right now, relatives are supporting her family as Vick and her husband search for new jobs.

She’s looking for a part-time job that would provide for “mother hours,” she said. Jeffrey has been completing odd jobs as he looks for something permanent.

Then she hopes after it all falls into place, in a few years, they can leave Massachusetts, Vick said.

“We’re both fed up with it,” she said. “We’re both tired of it being a police state.”

That decision will depend heavily on whether they can move somewhere else that can provide programs Noah requires, she said.

“We as parents refuse to not give him what he needs,” Vick said. “Right now, we’re just not giving up on what he needs. … We’re not going to let his life change because of what’s happening with us.”


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