RACINE — A formerly vacant Downtown storefront has been fully restored and is now open as Vapemeisters, a vape shop and tasting lounge that the owner says is “part of a national movement away from Big Tobacco.”
Vapemeisters, 420 Main St., is owned by Carl Kump, who also bought and completely remodeled the building, a former law office.
“Vapemeisers provides a wide selection of state-of-the-art vape products and high-quality e-liquids to help quit or reduce cigarette smoking dependencies,” Kump said.
Kump said he used vaping four years ago to quit his own tobacco addiction. Vaping comes with different levels of nicotine or none at all, so a cigarette smoker can gradually reduce dependency, he said.
Some research backs up the claim that vaping can help people quit smoking; other research indicates the opposite, and scientific evidence is considered inconclusive.
Vapemeisters carries more than 100 flavors and 40 to 50 brands of vape products.
Customers visiting the transformed space will discover new hardwood floors, decorative lighting, a custom counter with glass display drawers and handmade tables and shelving. The style is reflective of the “steampunk” genre, which is distinctive for its industrial elements.
The lounge features a vintage leather chesterfield sofa, metal bar stools and a handmade chess table made by Kump’s business partner and general manager, Jeffrey Kurth.
“We want Vapemeisters to be a welcome place for locals to gather, sample products and learn more about smokeless products,” stated Kurth, who single-handedly built out the space, including repairing the original wood staircase in the tasting room and designing the open-filament light fixtures.
The Vapemeisters logo, with its hand-drawn “smoking man,” is reflective of the era of the building’s beginnings and the steampunk style, Kump said. He said 420 Main St. was built 137 years ago by Henry C. Wiegand, one of Racine’s earliest jewelry merchants. The store was established in 1895, and Kump intends to salvage the now-fragile glass tile exterior sign when a new custom Vapemeisters sign is installed.
“It’s not in great shape,” Kump said, “but we hope to salvage the tiles and install the original sign in our store as artwork.”
Vapemeisters is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 262-510-0920.