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We've been working for over a year on the flavor profiles, packaging, website and branding and it was finally time to introduce Cafe Racer's Craft E-Liquids to the world. There are dozens of Vape meets and Vape Shows around the country but three really stand out: ECC, Vape Summit and World Vapor Expo. The timing of the World Vapor Expo made it a perfect launch vehicle for us to introduce our signature artfully crafted blends to the vaping world.
In my previous post on this blog, I shared our booth-buildout for the show. We felt that building our own custom booth would be a great way to extend the spirit of the Cafe Racer brand as well as provide a distinctive installation that would be both functional and stand out among hundreds of companies all vying for attention at the show. The idea was to showcase a kick ass Cafe Racer bike as well as provide a functional good looking sampling station for people to try our two signature flavors Lucky 13 and Peach Guzzi.
I walked this show last year to get a read on the state of the industry. I remember the energy at the Miami Convention Center being very high with a kind of vape electricity in the air - along with a thick vapor haze that happens when you get 15,000 people all vaping utilizing the latest and greatest Mods and Tanks. Being an exhibitor at this year's event was a vision that helped push the project forward over the last year as we painstakingly focused on creating distinctive, complex flavors that would stand out in a growing landscape of e-liquids that everyone claims are "premium" but many fall under the category of underwhelming and me too flavors created without much imagination or artistry.
CAFE RACER's BOOTH
We scored the bike from a local motorcycle crew called Cafe Moto Club. I reached out to them to see if they could help us find a local custom builder who might allow us to showcase his bike in our booth. The Cafe Moto Club guys were super cool and very supportive. They put me in touch with one of their members, James, who they said had just the bike I was looking for and one of the top custom Cafe Racer's in the South.
The Cafe Racer Tasting Bar turned out awesome! Lots of attendees dropped by to admire the piece of art that James had created from a 1974 Honda and to sample the e-liquid blends that quickly became the talk of the show. Some visitors also had fun playing with the uplighting at the bar creating vape cloud art and pushing out photos to instagram and twitter.
DAY 1: FRIDAY MAY 29th
Friday was B2B only - so you had to be a qualified Vape Shop owner or shop employee to attend. This was really our main target audience with this show as our goal was to connect with shop owners looking for new ultra premium brands of e-liquid to add to their shop's growing variety of top shelf flavors.
We sampled hundreds of vape shop owners and their attending staff along with many other industry folks who stopped by our booth to check out our flavors. I was a little nervous at the onset, this being the first real test to validate that our flavors were as good as we felt they were. We had received great reviews from a limited number of beta testers here in SoCal during the flavor development period, but offering our artfully crafted blends to the wide world of vapor enthusiasts and other e-juice makers from all over the country was another story completely!
The butterflies quickly dissipated as person after person raved about one or both of our flavors and begged us for samples or asked to buy a bottle. We probably had 400 people sample the flavors the first day and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. More than a few people said that Lucky13 was the best tobacco blend they had ever tried and PeachGuzzi received high marks as a refreshing complex fruity blend unlike anything available on the market.
Day 2: SATURDAY - VAPE-AGEDDON!
Saturday was B2B from 10am until Noon and then the doors opened up to the general public - as a huge crowd of vape enthusiasts from all over the East Coast descended on Hall A to check the latest and greatest in vaping world.
By 2:00 PM Hall A was packed with people all vaping their high powered Vape Mods and Sub-Ohm tanks - creating a cloud of vapor beyond anything that I've seen before. What is also amazing - it smelled pretty awesome in the Miami convention center with thousands of flavors all intermingling to create a mélange of flavor unlike anything I've ever experienced. Had this been a Smoking event, the air quality would have been akin to Beijing during the evening rush hour (or worse!) but because vapor is merely water molecules mixed with flavoring, the sweet scented vapor clouds didn't negatively effect the air quality at all.
DAY 3: SUNDAY
I thought the closing day would be pretty slow, especially since this event was in Miami, a city known for it's all night partying. To my surprise, the action at the convention center was just a little less than Saturday's throngs with lots of people filling Hall A by 11:00 am or so. We continued to get a steady stream of people at the Cafe Racer booth throughout the day with many returning for a 2nd taste or request samples for their Vape Shop - something most shops do to test with their staff and best customers before bringing in a new line of e-liquid.
We wrote a few orders to vapor shops and took home hundreds of business cards from shops asking us to send samples to test. As the day wore on, the crowds held steady, with many booths still busy right up until the 4pm closing time. This was one of the first trade shows where I was actually disappointed to see the show close.
I closed out the trip with a swim in the warm aqua colored water of Miami Beach. Back in Cali, I surf almost every day so being in the water here in Miami was a perfect way to end this trip and clear my head before heading back to San Diego where the real work of getting Cafe Racer's artfully crafted e-liquids pushed out to stores nation wide was about to commence. Giddy Ops!
As a final note about the show, I'd like to mention that the World Vapor Expo organizers were an absolute pleasure to work with. Mark Evans Jr, President of the World Vapor Expo, stopped by the booth several times to see how things were going and made sure that we were happy with everything at the show. He was super accessible from the first email that I sent to them back in March regarding getting a booth all the way to closing day of the show. Big thanks to Mark and his World Vapor Expo Team!