If anyone happens to live in the Lehigh valley area of Pennsylvania a new B&M shop just opened up in Bethlehem. The owners are very nice and helpful. They don't have too many kits yet or mods but their juices are great!
I prefer not to buy vape stuff at B&M's. They generally don't offer a decent price/value/service experience. I've only been to one good shop in the Chicago area, cigtechs, and they make the Tatroe mods. I buy their Tatroe stuff there since I save on shipping but their juice is B&M store priced. For 2 30ml bottles of their juice, I can get 2 120ml bottles online. Also, most stores don't honor web pricing in the store. Frankly, I find that ridiculous if a customer is willing to spend their time driving to the store and that way the store saves money and time spent packing and shipping.
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I'm fortunate to have several very good B&Ms in the area.
Everyone here has been a great help, but my local guys taught me how to fill cartos (did the first ones for me), refill carto tanks, change coils, wind coils, etc.
So yeah, I go to the B&Ms as often as my schedule will allow and just hang out, buy some juice and usually a tank or a couple of clearos, heads, or whatever. At one shop where the manager is a musician and biker much like myself, we shoot the breeze about gigging and riding. At another, the owner is an avid vaper and has been in the business for years, hanging out with him is an education on a whole 'nother level. Another one that has all kinds of high end mods lets me take them apart and play with 'em.
Oh, and they ALL let you sample as much as you want. Turned out that flavors that sounded like they'd be great didn't fit my taste pallette very well, and flavors I would have never ordered on line turned out to be some of my favorites.
Do B&Ms charge more than some on line options? Yeah. Most have more overhead per sale, obviously. But the value added, IMHO exceeds the slight markup.
I do both now. I've had the good and bad sides of this topic. I started with a big shop near my old job, just to find out everything was over priced and outdated. (After my purchase and no refunds enforced.) Needless to say I don't go there anymore.
I've found two shops much closer to home, but they can be hit or miss as well, it just depends on the staffs knowledge in the end.
One place has two people who work there, and one is always trying to learn and keep up with the trends and advances. The other just wants you to leave his store quickly with a lot of money going his way. I walked in with my Zmax, and he wouldn't stop trying to get me to upgrade to the Provari until I finally left. I tend to only go back to them to grab a small bottle of a juice I'm curious about but don't want to get in 30ml before I've had a day or two to vape it. But, now that I've learned a lot more from where I started I usually just end up talking to the younger one and keeping him up to date on RDAs and the like. He's trying to get the owner to grab a few Igo-W's and supplies because how much he liked mine last time haha.
The other store is almost the same but there's a guy there who is 100% into this. He is a reddit regular on the topic, and travels to attend vape meets. Fixed my first few coils for me, even mixed me custom juice with more VG. Those are the people who should be selling this stuff. (Sorry, overly long post. But, totally on topic.)
My local B&M is awesome! I went in with a setup that I got from another vendor (online) and it was not working properly with most of my tanks. I thought that they were just not compatible with it. The employee at the shop took it from me looked at it, then he got out some tools to adjust it for me and fixed my problem! I was so grateful. He could have easily sold me another tank but instead he helped my fix what was wrong with it. Awesome customer service!! I am lucky to have such a great vendor close to me! Yay Vegas!!
I do about 99% of my purchasing online, because I like having such a huge variety of options.
However, I recently discovered a fantastic b&m not too far from where I live and I expect to become a regular customer. The owner is very knowledgeable and helpful, and being able to try something before you buy it, or get advice on how to use a new device is priceless and worth the 20 minute drive to the shop.