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June 15, 2020

AVAIL Vapor Buys Giant Vapes in Pre-PMTA Consolidation

Online vape merchant Giant Vapes, a familiar name to almost everyone in the independent vaping industry, has been purchased by AVAIL Vapor. The purchase includes both the Giant Vapes retail e-commerce site and Giant Distribution, a major wholesale supplier of e-liquid and vaping products. Terms of the sale were not announced.

“By combining the strengths of AVAIL’s broad brick and mortar footprint and Giant Vapes’ extensive e-commerce platform the combined company will deliver unique value to its customers both in the U.S. and abroad,” AVAIL announced. The companies will maintain separate identities.

Giant Vapes, headquartered in Rhode Island, was founded in 2013 by Mike Runshe and Josh McCluskey, and has grown to become one of the largest U.S. retail and wholesale sellers of vaping products. Co-founder and CEO Runshe has been an active vape industry advocate, currently serving as secretary of the Smokefree Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) board.

“We are excited about the tremendous promise of this business combination given the strong fundamentals of each company and the overall industry,” said AVAIL CEO James Xu. “We are delighted to welcome Giant Vapes to the AVAIL family, and we look forward to providing our customers with an outstanding experience.”

AVAIL is one of the largest vaping businesses in the country, owning almost 100 vape shops in 12 states.

Xu will run the combined operation, along with AVAIL retail and marketing vice president Justin Murphy, who will manage the daily operations of both Giant Vapes and AVAIL. Online sales and distribution is one of the few areas of the vape industry that has been a weakness for AVAIL.

AVAIL is one of the largest vaping businesses in the country, owning almost 100 vape shops in 12 states. The company also produces e-liquid for its own stores and under contract for many other companies, including Charlie’s Chalk Dust. AVAIL, based in Richmond, Virginia, has expanded since a 2017 investment by Altria to become a leader in regulatory compliance lab services and consulting. (The company is no longer affiliated with Altria.)

In January 2020, AVAIL split into three separate companies, each offering different services:

  • AVAIL Vapor, LLC: retail and manufacturing
  • Blackbriar Regulatory Services, LLC: contract manufacturing, and FDA compliance consulting and laboratory services
  • Blackship Technologies, LLC: research and development services

With the Sept. 9 deadline for submission of Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTAs) rapidly approaching, the independent vaping industry will probably see more consolidation as small- and medium-sized companies seek strategies to survive.

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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Barry Comer
Barry Comer
3 years ago

I have purchased many, many bottles of ejuice from Giant over the years with complete confidence and satisfaction. However, this merger concerns me.

The few times I have visited an Avail store, I have left feeling diminished and wondering why they are so uninformed. The sales staff all nice, must have a quota each month, since the atmosphere there is a car dealership mood.

My hope, is that Giant stays the same and receives no influence from Avail. Best of luck to them both and am hoping in numbers, there will be strength.

3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Comer

Well Barry, I feel as though not all Avail locations are cut from the same cloth. The location in Falls Church, VA has some of the best staff I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with. The manager there made honest suggestions and knew nearly every single thing about his inventory making my purchase decision super easy. I felt as though their eliquid prices were a little bit on the high side, but other than that I had a wonderful experience there.

Fran Forbes
Fran Forbes
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Comer

Ditto everything you said, Barry