In 2013 when the e-cigarette-related laws and regulations were not sound, Avail Vapor was established in Richmond. It opened its first store in Carytown and quickly grew into a large-scale e-cigarette chain.
Avail Vapor CEO James Xu said that they had to make the decision to close all stores after many years for various reasons, including the so-called unclear and complicated federal regulatory procedures. After operating for many years in an unregulated market at the time, the company failed to seek approval to continue selling its nicotine-containing e-liquid. At the same time, the epidemic has also had a serious impact on the company.
Electronic cigarette offline retail giant Avail Vapor has given up physical retail.
About a year ago, Avail Vapor's performance reached its peak, with nearly 100 stores in more than a dozen states, and recently completely withdrew from the retail market by selling or closing all of its stores.
"This is a complete mess of FDA's policy formulation and policy strategy. From day one, it doesn't make any sense," James Xu said.
Avail Vapor started their layoffs in August this year. At that time, about 30 stores were sold to North Carolina-based competitor MadVapes. James Xu said that by the end of October, it closed or sold the remaining 20 stores, including about 5 stores in the Richmond area.
Its last local reservations include the Carytown store at 3039 W. Cary St., Short Pump at 11440 W. Broad St. and a location outside of Chesterfield town centre.
In 2015, it established a 37,000-square-foot office and manufacturing building at 820 South Lake Avenue. Since then, the factory has been its headquarters.
James Xu said that since the FDA established new compliance standards for e-cigarette products in 2016, Avail Vapor has spent more than 10 million U.S. dollars to obtain relevant regulatory approvals. But the FDA rejected Avail's application in September, and the company sued the government agency in the Federal Court of Appeals. The case is expected to be heard in court early next year.
With the further implementation of the FDA process, the company established three sections last year: retailer Avail Vapor LLC, Blackbriar Regulatory Services LLC (contract manufacturing, laboratory services and FDA compliance consulting) and Blackship Technologies LLC (R&D).