Sioux Falls, SD
It was a trip to an e-cigarette shop in Minneapolis that led Matt Tlougan to enter the business himself. After vaping for the first time, he started smoking less, and his friends took notice.
"When all of my friends started asking me what I was using, what kind of product this is and how good it was working for me. So, what I did was I logged online and started buying it from a wholesaler," Tlougan said.
Soon, he and his mother had two stores and mall kiosks in Minnesota and business was booming.
This year, things are changing. Recent legislation in Minnesota is putting a high tax on their product and banning the mall kiosks starting next year.
"We're going to be out of a lot of money because the big thing is a customer that walks by that currently does not do our product, it's going to be harder to sell to them because they don't see what's going on," Tlougan said.
Tlougan says the kiosks alone brought in $4,000 a week. The new regulations is pushing shop owners like Tlougan to look outward for better business opportunities, and he sees South Dakota as an untapped resource.
"South Dakota people are a little bit behind on the technology and seeing what it is. A lot more store fronts in the last year have boomed in Minnesota versus South Dakota," Tlougan said.
That is quickly changing. Three other vaping shops already exist in Sioux Falls alone.
In about a month, the new Vape It Zone will be one of many in South Dakota opening up thanks to regulations in Minnesota making it harder to turn a profit.
"A lot of them are, and I'm not the only one, there's more coming soon," Tlougan said. "It's a little more scary in Minnesota, because you never know what could happen."
Even though Tlougan is excited about his business growing in South Dakota, he remains cautious about what the future holds. While regulations are light in the state right now, Tlougan says that could change at a moments notice.