by Stephen Dafoe
Alternatives and Options Vaporizers and E-Liquids and Ltd. have been busy over the past couple of weeks getting their second store open for the beginning of August in St. Albert.
Thomas and Marjorie Kirsop started the Morinville store on 100 Street more than two years ago and have grown sufficiently to branch out to an even larger market.
“It’s time for me to come home from my job up north. That was the trigger,” explained owner Thomas Kirsop, adding that he has worked in the oil industry as an operator for 25 years, the last 13 flying in and out of the job site. “I had to be doing something, so we’re going to expand into a larger community, and with any luck with the two stores, my children don’t starve. We’re quite committed. They say most people change careers three times in their lifetime – it was time for my first one.”
Kirsop said the Morinville store started as he thought it would in terms of sales and potential sales. His market research factored in the percentage of smokers Health Canada suggests are in any community as well as what percentage he estimated would switch from smoking to vaping. Rules prohibit vape shops from advertising comparisons between vaping and smoking.
“The numbers came up exactly as we thought they would and we’re doing fairly well now,” he said, adding he wants to get access to the larger population base.
The new store is 1800 square feet, almost double the size of the Morinville location. Kirsop said he sees the expanded space as beneficial for his Morinville customers in that product carried in St. Albert not on the shelves in Morinville will be readily available to his customers here.
“It’s a larger store. I can carry more stock and I can transfer stock back and forth.”
One thing that won’t change is Alternative and Options core philosophy. “We’re maintaining the same standards there as here. It’s going to be an 18 plus shop, which is now mandated under federal regulations. We’re going to put laminate up on the windows.
“Our target is still the 30- to 50-year-old smoker and always will be. That’s where our longest term customers are. We’re going to carry those same values right into St. Albert because we believe there is a market there.”
With the larger centre, Kirsop is planning slightly longer hours at the St. Albert store, although the specifics are not yet confirmed.
The new store will be located at Unit 70 585 St. Albert Trail, right behind Boston Pizza south of the hospital. Alternatives and Options Morinville Store is located on 100 Street, next to Petro Canada.