This year I am putting a spot light on small businesses in my home town. I will be doing this project leading up to Small Business Saturday this November.  Shopping local puts more money back in to your community. This allows the local economy to flourish and grow by creating jobs, providing services, and getting quality products.  I have found that many times when I shop small I meet the owners, the face and heart of the company. Their employees aren't just numbers on the payroll which seems to produce better customer service by people who care about what they do.

Ty Stinnett at Iconic 2403 S Florida Ave Lakeland, FL

I would like to introduce you to, Ty Stinnett. He is the owner of Iconic. Iconic is a local vape shop here in Lakeland, FL. Here you can buy e-liquid, tanks, batteries, kits, and more.  The staff is educated and users of e-cigarettes and are more than willing to help you make the switch from traditional cigarettes. They can answer your questions, show you how their products work, and let you taste different flavors. They will also help you pick the right equipment, juices, and nicotine levels to best meet your needs.

Ty Stinnett behind the counter where you can taste different flavors of e-liquid.

A small portion of the products they offer.

You may also find the most popular vaporista in the shop, Kacey. She may not be able to help you with your vaping needs, but she is great company. Especially if you have a snack on hand. 
Kacey Vaporista of the month, always.

   I asked Ty if he would answer a few questions about himself, his business, and the importance of shopping local. Enjoy. Shop Small. 

Interview questions:

Where are you from?
 I grew up in the D.C./Baltimore area and spent my childhood summers on my granny’s farm in rural Alabama. I like to think I got the best of both worlds, city boy during the school year, country boy in the summer.

 What did you do before owning a business?
 Prior to this business I worked in Neuroscience with epilepsy and seizure patients. Before that, I served in the U.S. Air Force for about 10 years. And before the military, I was mostly in the restaurant industry. I’ve also have a ton of part-time jobs in a multitude of fields. 

 What year did ICONIC start? 
 We’ve been in business since 2013. Originally we were a pseudo-franchise, but once I realized that company was more profit-motivated, didn’t care about quality or client-service, I decided to venture out on my own. Initially the break-away and going independent was tough, but our clients and staff are so much happier.

 Why vape industry? 
 I was a smoker for about 25 years. I had tried everything to quit cigarettes. Nothing worked for long. One Christmas my brother gave me a quality electronic cigarette starter kit. That kit helped get me off the cancer sticks. The problem was at that time the only place to get decent e-cigs/supplies was on the internet. I wanted to open a store where people could sample flavors, get educated on e-cigs/vaping, purchase quality products and most importantly get support in quitting smoking. All my staff are ex-smokers. They know what it’s like to try and quit.

You are part owner of a shop in Colorado, why Lakeland?
 In a nutshell, family. My parents moved here a while ago, so I’ve visited Lakeland many times over the years. They’re getting older and I wanted to be closer to them. Plus I had lived in Colorado for about 12 years and was getting tired of cold winters. I see so much positive potential growth for Lakeland and I'm excited to see what the future holds for Lakeland.

 What has helped you the most in the success of your business? 
 My staff. They’re awesome. Our clients also love to refer us to their friends and family. Without our clients and staff, we wouldn't exist.

 What is the biggest obstacle of being a small business? 
 Being a local micro-business is tough. We’re competing against internet companies who don’t have much overhead, competing against big companies with much larger budgets and also competing against other small businesses in the same industry. We work with a very small limited budget. The government defines a small business as any business with less than 500 employees. I think that definition either needs to change or another category needs to be created for micro-small businesses such as ourselves.

 Why is the support of small businesses so important?
 Money spent at a local small business goes right back into the local economy. We support local charities, organizations, events and other small businesses. Supporting local small businesses helps the community.

Do you participate in American Express's Shop Small campaign? 
 We have participated.

 If so, how has it helped you?
I would love to say that it has but the Lakeland community as a whole, doesn't seem to know much about it. Participation didn't hurt but it didn't seem to help either. I hope in the future, the program helps bring more awareness to the need to support small businesses.

 What would you like to tell your customers and the community about you, your business, and/or small businesses in general?
Please support your local small businesses, especially the micro-small businesses. I can't speak for other micro-companies, but I know ours really does care about our clients. We strive to give our clients the best possible service and experience.

 Anything else you would like to share about your business and your products?
 If you are a smoker and/or have family, friends, co-workers who are, please bring them in to see us. We have helped several thousand people quit smoking. Our success rate is over 90%. Most smoking cessation programs barely have a 50% success rate. We're here to help, educate and support. There's so much disinformation and misinformation out there, stop in and learn what vaping/ecigs is really all about. 
Here is Ty with a few employees that were there during my visit: Ryan, Ty, Kacey, Marcus, and Curtis.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2013 arsallotphotography