Not far from the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, about an hour east, nestled in what is known as the Cumberland Plateau, exists a very special place, Docs Vape Escape. Now, of course, almost every vaper claims a vape shop or two that are their favorites. After all, the goal of every vape shop that exists across the United States is to have something that makes them special or unique in this new industry. Still it is what drives my journey to find the most unique and interesting shops across the country, digging deep into the heart of the business we call vaping.
Vape Shops are clearly the beating heart of the industry, having direct contact with the customers and “real-time” responses about what is desirable and refuted in the vaping world. It’s what allows fellow vapers to network with other vapers, resulting in growth and knowledge of vaping and equipment. For example, even the sheer fact of your being able to read a publication about vaping may not be possible if it were not for brick and mortar vape shops that sell vaping products and educate people about the process and the devices. This dynamic is occurring at most every shop across the country each and every day. It’s how people get into vaping;, it’s how people get educated about the various nuances of vaping; and continue to get educated as they cautiously begin to venture into their first attempts of vaping. Anecdotally, as vapers, we are all connected, even though we may not yet know one another, we all share the same vaping goals.
Doc’s Vape Escape in Cookeville, Tennessee is that special place! To most, they may think it is just another vape shop, but as I stated, every shop has special qualities that separate them from all the rest. There is no exception to that rule here at Doc’s. After all this shop is the legacy of, and dedicated to, Dr Anthony Dalton (Owner), a retired Orthopedic Surgeon who has professionally stated that his experience is that vaping is significantly safer than smoking. As proof of that statement, after 35 years since his last cigarette, Dr. Dalton is now an avid vape enthusiast with a myriad of vape devices and liquids. After months of scouring medical journals and anecdotal research, Dr. Dalton is convinced that vaping will significantly alter the ill health effects and years of medical devastation as the result of smoking combustible tobacco, also known as cigarettes. It is with this knowledge that Dr. Dalton, his wife Karen, son and daughter-in-law Ryan and Erika Thornton embarked on the prospect of opening a vape shop in their town. Not only was it Doc’s goal to provide the highest quality products and education of product to the vaping community, but to be the epitome of customer service, professionalism, and product education in our area. Thus, DocsVapeEscape opened its doors in June of 2014, just 5 blocks from the local university.
One of the key players of Docs is Co-Owner/ Product Specialist Ryan Matthew Thornton (a.k.a. “Doc Jr”) who runs the day to day operations of the shop along with his wife Erika who is also the Human Resource Manager. Upon interviewing Ryan and his staff, I knew that this was a special and unique place, full of staff members with a passion for vaping, so much so that when it first opened its doors for business about one year and a half ago, most or all staff members worked for free, becoming veritable “shop flies” prior to being hired, always willing to assist with a customer’s questions or attend the tasting bar for customers as needed. These employees continue to put in extra hours at no charge, not because they have to, for the love they have for this industry. This work ethic practice continues to exist today… these are genuine vape enthusiasts! Be it research, polling of other vapers in the community, or marketing functions, these employees are the cornerstone of the success of Docs.
Co-Owner, Ryan has been quoted as saying that saving lives is what brings him joy. He and many others that work there say that it is not about the money but about getting people to stop smoking traditional, combustible tobacco cigarettes to help improve the quality of their customer’s lives and potentially save their customer’s lives by helping them make the switch to vaping. It’s amazing, that even though thousands and thousands of people have quit smoking due to vaping, it is still yet to be recognized as a smoking cessation product. From personal experience, in this writer’s opinion, it certainly is a 100% smoking cessation product/industry. Though I have personally tried many products, nothing worked to stop me from smoking two packs of Newport’s a day for 13 years. Vaping did that for m! It saved my life. I can now play with my kids, run without becoming winded, and enjoy life. It’s people like Ryan and his staff at Doc’s Vape Escape that make all that possible for people all over the country and world.
Like many other vape shops, Docs sells a variety of products. Still When Doc’s Vape Escape decided to open up for business, there were not many vape shops in business in the Middle Tennessee area. After his success was noticed, others began to open. He also explains that in a 60 mile radius around his shop, that Doc’s is the only vape shop that sells authentic products. They carry approx. 20 different brands of premium juice. From the outside and even when you walk in, it may seem like just another Vape Shop. Do not let that fool you! Though what I write here, you would find out the moment you stepped foot inside this shop. Right away I noticed a religious cross on his wall at the shop, and he was more than confident to wear his gold chain around his neck that stood out which was accompanied by a gold religious cross with Jesus Christ on it. He explains that it all plays into each other. A step dad (Surgeon) who helped save lives for approx… 40 years, a step son embarks on a project to build a business that saves lives, specifically saving people from dying of the painful disease we know as Cancer.
We all know that new people walk into Vape Shops and become vapers at every shop, all over the country, every day. So can you imagine the thousands of people a day who are spared the deadly cancer caused by traditional cigarette smoking? Well even if it were 1,000 people per day, that math is not hard to figure, and that number is being conservative, but leave your calculators and phones in their place, the number is at least 365,000 people a day. I guess that is what they mean when they say the tables have turned. I guess god wants to keep those hundreds of thousands of people around instead of the way Big Tobacco had it, where they were killing just as many except many times over. I hope one day to see the impact of vaping helping change the healthcare system, when they are no longer burdened by the thousands of people dying in their hospitals each day, many times leaving the bill for services to the American Taxpayers.
Doc’s Vape Escape shop does not finish their journey at the shop when the lights go out. First, like any other business they have a website about their store, and you can certainly purchase products and have them delivered from Doc’s Vape Escape. You can visit them at http://www.DocsVape.com. They have also created a group site that has over 1,000 members and growing strong. This site is an educational site. It gives consumers inside access to the world of professional vaping. This site/Group can be accessed on Facebook as part of Facebook Groups under DocsVapeEscape Inside Access. You can also find the Facebook Page for the Shop under Doc’s Vape Escape. Another interesting site connected to Doc’s Vape Escape is Doctor Anthony (Tony) Dalton’s own website where he welcomes questions and comments. So if you have a question in regards to vaping, the Doctor is in at DocsVape.WordPress.com.
Doc’s Vape Escape has to possess help from a supernatural form. Now, the reason I say this, is because it seems that all of their staff members seem to have their own hold in the Vapor industry. Most are involved in big plans or have their own up and coming businesses.
On their staff they have a Mechanic/Engineer by the name of Trinity Wilmore, who is currently a 4 year student at Tennessee Tech University and is a senior who majors in Mechanical Engineering. No surprise that he has his own business. Thanks to the Vaping industry he makes his own brand and owns the (Trinity Box). I saw two of them and they looked amazing. One was called the Camaro another was a blood spatter pattern. Doc’s Vape Escape is the first shop to offer it for sale, the Trinity Box is an un-regulated Box with copper plates for optimal conductivity (the hardest unregulated that Co-Owner Ryan has ever hit. Customers who purchase the Trinity Box can choose to have a custom paint scheme of their choice, it has a Fat Daddy Contact and comes with a lifetime warranty, and each one is individually serialized.
Austin “SHAZAM” Phifer is another staff member who is one of the creators and owners of a new mobile App called Drip Tips Mobile App. It is an App that can come in use for those at home or away from home looking for the nearest Vape Shop. Depending on your location, it will locate Vape Shops around you, show you a catalog of all the different shops and who offers what. It also will have the ability to allow the user to hit a chat button to speak to a rep the store of their choice, it will also have the ability to call and possibly the ability to video chat with the store of their choice if the store is set up for such and as the App gains more popularity. Now SHAZAM is not alone in creating the ideas for the APP. Jonathan (BIG Watkins) Watkins and Brother Michael (BABY) Watkins also put their heads together for the Drip Tips Mobile App.
SHAZAM had much to say, and he made a lot of sense, as he discussed unfair taxes that could halt the vaping industry. He does not mind simple labeling, but is against major taxes and laws that make it hard or impossible to open or even to continue to run a Vape shop. He is a member of Change.org, as he feels that Vapers all over the world have a responsibility to join forces to fight these laws and ridiculous taxes. Vapers who enjoy vaping, must speak up and have their voices heard. I could not agree more. Like Ryan stated this is the fastest growing business he has ever seen, and it has given opportunities to people who normally would not have a chance to succeed, to not only succeed but to own a business that is successful in ways never imagined. After over 10 years of vaping existing, mostly underground, now that it is a success from hard work, the government and Big Tobacco wants a hand in it. As SHAZAM sees it, either they will try and make it impossible for the industry or get their hands in the pockets of the successful in order to tap into the money that was honestly earned by hard work and years of innovation.
So Vapers do the right thing, and let your elected government officials know how you feel. Go to sites to write to your Senator, sites like Change.org and CASAA – The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association. SHAZAM points out that most premium e-liquids contain 4 main ingredients, while a traditional cigarette contains over 7,000 chemicals. For the record the name “SHAZAM” just comes off as cool to me. It shouts out like an introduction of someone very important in the vaping industry. Like “Ladies and gentlemen introducing, from the State of Tennessee, Vaping’s own: SHAZAM! (Just thought I would throw that in there). Besides we had a very long talk, and I enjoyed every bit of it. He may be the newest employee at Doc’s, but he seems to have a world of experience.
Doc’s Vape Escape has Ryan Matthew Thornton as Co-Owner, who is usually on hand for daily operations, still it does not matter much when he has to go away or be away from the shop, because surely there is enough staff, but to top it off it would be a dishonor not to introduce the General Manager of the shop, Steven Ashburn the boss when the boss is not in and even when he is. After all a general Manager must be allowed to perform their job.
While wearing the hat of General Manager, Steven also Co-Owns and helps his wife Laurie, who owns e-juice company “Blue Eyed Vapor” also sold at Doc’s Vape Escape. Blue Eyed Vapor bottles look great, with a great big eye on it. Bottles are glass, which tells me that this is no run of the mill juice….surely a premium juice. He told me he remembers filling one of his first orders of about 150 bottles, not they are fulfilling orders of 10,000 bottles and more. With several shops across the US selling the Brand, it is growing in leaps and bounds. It is also sold at MojoVapor.com. Business has been so well, that they now have moved to a state of the art facility with Operating Room tiles on the floor, stainless steel tables with non-porous surfaces, and steel doors. General Manager Steven Ashburn has his plate full, literally. As his wife is a great cook and all of the “Doc’s Family” knows this. It’s why every rants about her Blue Eyed, E-Juice. She has a juice called Hermione’s Kiss after Harry Potter. It’s Butter Beer Cup Cake. Being that she is a cook and actually makes real edible butter beer cupcakes, they say both the juice and the real thing taste exactly the same.
It’s important to know that the special people at Doc’s Vape Escape are not referred to as employees, but as “Doc’s Family”. GM Steven joined the family at a good time. For approx. the first 9 months Ryan and his mother, Karen Dalton ran the shop, until Steven came on board. She was and is CFO of the Shop. She worked very hard to get the store up and running as she is also a Co-Owner. She has a HUGE heart. As some have come in that were less fortunate and could not afford much, and she found it, out of the kindness of her heart to give a free starter kit, just to get them to stop smoking. She has done this a few times, so has owner Ryan. Still make no mistake no business can stay in business by giving away all their product. These were very specific situations and were an exception. Still after all, walking into a shop with crosses on the wall, and pictures of saints, you would or may realize it looks like a Christian Vape Shop. So it is no wonder that these good people are in it to help others. God’s people. Now, the General Manager came in months later as I stated, while he had a regular job during the day he would come to work at Doc’s after 3pm, every day. Free of charge for months. Now, Ryan did not want to accept this, and kept telling him no, but I guess a hard head will defeat words, and Steven Continued to work for free and he did it because he loved it, and there began a friendship between Ryan and Steven that extends way beyond the doors of the shop, and it is what helped Steven and his wife Laurie to make the big decision to start an E-juice company. Steven Knows what he is doing, because of his marketing and connections and his manner of running business, the customer case has grown so much since the day he began. Anyone in the Doc’s Family must understand Customer service. Steven ensures that those he manage always take care of customers the right way even taken care of them by doing a little something extra. He knows that such customer is a customer for life. When a customer leaves unhappy or even with the “it’s no big deal feeling”, you may count on the fact that you lost a customer for like. So Thumbs up to Steven and his understanding that customer service may be the single most important part of running a successful Vape Shop.
One of the last members of this special team at Doc’s Vape Escape is Alex Thompson. He is a student at Tennessee Tech University, he is part of TEAM RIOT WIRE by MOJO VAPOR. It can be purchased at Doc’s or online from Doc’s and Online from MojoVapor.com. Riot Wire is a powerful hybrid wire to meet all vapers needs. It has higher nickel content to allow for a lower resistance.
Doc’s Vape Escape seems to be a medium sized shop accommodating to all who enter, the shop is located at 402 East 10th Street in Cookeville, TN, Inside the Cash Express Building on the corner of E. 1oth Street and Washington Street. They can be reached by visiting their many websites or by calling 931-854-1846. VAPUN MAGAZINE can be purchased online and may be available at Doc’s. To be considered for a review for your Vape Shop in the VAPE SHOP CORNER section feel free to contact VAPUN MAGAZINE or visit Facebook group VAPESHOPCORNER (www.facebook.com/groups/VapeShopCorner/)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Dalton passed away on 5/14/16 but his legacy lives on not only with vaping, but with the thousands of orthopedic patients he helped, with the assistance of his Heavenly Father. He always said he was only the “tool” that God used to heal.