By Jack Marchesi
Atmosphere Vapors is a breath of fresh air for the residents of Grinnell. Nestled between Pagliai’s Pizza and an unmarked apartment building on 5th Avenue lies the hazy and laidback storefront. After realizing a potential market for vaporizers existed in Grinnell, Travis Puls opened shop in late August of 2016. Following a couple successful months in Grinnell, Puls seized the opportunity to monopolize the vape scene of the immediate area, opening another location in Newton.
As the vape clouds settled upon entrance, so did I and Jackson Schulte ‘20. We became acquainted with Joe Martin, a new employee, and he told us about how he got into vaping. Martin told us that he was previously addicted to cigarettes and started vaping in order to kick his unhealthy habit.
“Smoking was killing me, man,” Martin told us — but after switching to an entry-level vape, Martin immediately noticed improvement in his ability to breathe, smell and taste. This led us to inquire about Atmosphere Vapors’ target audience and if they too intended to find a healthier alternative.
Owner Travis Puls estimated that thirty to forty percent of his customers are trying to ditch cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Martin explained to us that one can buy vape fluids with varying amounts of nicotine — including twelve, six and zero percent — empowering former cigarette smokers to gradually kick their habit.
Being from Grinnell, Puls is no stranger to the prevalence of tobacco products in the area. He noted one of his incentives to open Atmosphere Vapors as being able to provide a healthier and cost-effective method for members of his hometown to rid their harmful dependency.
After settling in and talking shop, it was time to vape. Though they carry countless flavors, such as cinnamon toast crunch with milk, we went with Martin’s suggestion: ambrosia. Due to FDA regulations, vape flavor sampling costs fifty cents. This is, however, a small price to pay for their commitment to cleanliness as well as an ability to try as many flavors as one desires. This ability to sample before making a purchase provides hospitality that vape enthusiasts won’t find online. In fact, neighborliness is an integral part of Atmosphere Vapors’ business. Puls told us how they meticulously choose most of their fluids from Midwestern craft liquid distributors, showing their commitment to local business.
Overall, the employee hospitality coupled with the store’s simple, but comprehensive, layout left us with an exceptional impression. Grinnell is a small town — we don’t even have a pharmacy within a short distance — so at a first glance, the presence of a vape shop may seem a little particular. That being said, our brief conversation with Puls and Martin unearthed the intentions of the business, indicating that a significant market for vaporizers is present in Grinnell.
For college students seeking to kick their cigarette habits, or even #straightedge students who are just in it for the flavor, we thoroughly recommend a visit to Atmosphere Vapors.