How to plan and design a trendy marijuana vape lounge

Published Sep 20, 2019 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Sergey Nazarov

Now that smoking marijuana is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes, consumers are patiently awaiting safe spaces that are intended for consumption. Unfortunately, smoking comes with some significant drawbacks, including lung irritation, so we aren’t expecting to see legislation that allows for burning cannabis indoors. However, vaping offers a different level of safety, which is the reason why vape lounges are quickly becoming one of the most requested marijuana businesses. So far, these facilities are unable to meet the federal legal requirements in Canada, so, if you do come across one, it’s probably not licensed for that purpose. However, the future’s looking bright for this brand-new industry, as lawmakers work on a way to keep both the general public and consumers happy.

In the meantime, many entrepreneurs are coming up with unique ideas to draw crowds once they are allowed to operate legally, and some of what we see in illicit vape lounges is showing that this is a highly anticipated industry that consumers have very little expectations from. The only consistent that we do see is the availability of vaporizers, but this can be expanded to enhance the experience in a way that will keep customers coming back for more, which will help business to thrive. To help with a bit of inspiration, we have compiled a list of useful and exciting design ideas for the ultimate vape lounge.

1. Offer a wide range of marijuana products
This one may seem like an obvious feature, but a lot of people don’t realize how many different kinds of cannabis products there are out there, and even fewer would believe which ones they truly want. Most of the better-quality vaporizers require concentrates, but some people enjoy good old-fashioned bud. If you’re going to attract customers of all ages, then it will help to keep as many different options as you possibly can. Pure bud, a variety of concentrates and edibles are must-have items. Offering more personalized service with the assistance of a butter machine or hash press is something that has been widely requested by consumers, especially those who are without the know-how or money to purchase one themselves.

2. Keep non-infused food and drink on the menu
This is likely not going to be the big moneymaker in the operation, as regular food and beverages don’t cost a whole lot. However, happy customers are one that has their needs met, and the effects of cannabis often lead to a case of the munchies or cottonmouth. So affordable options that will satisfy those cravings will go a long way. Marijuana and coffee go hand in hand, but other excellent go-to items to help customers keep their buzz managed should include easy to eat, and often greasy options like French fries, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and cold desserts, all of which will always sell like hotcakes at a vape lounge. To accommodate this, you might need a fryer, coolers and freezers, which is the reason why it is so essential to make these decisions now.

3. Choose a hot topic or theme
A cannabis vape lounge is likely going to display some sort of stoner paraphernalia and pot leaf posters, but thanks to the shift in society’s opinion of smoking marijuana. There are a whole lot more choices out there that you might not have even thought of. Many cannabis enthusiasts are also fans of topics like comic books, particular television series, music and comedy. So, figure out which ones you would like to feature and draw the brightest and warmest color options from that for the walls and decor.

4. Always include a quiet space
If you are experienced with smoking marijuana, then you have probably encountered a time where either yourself or someone else, ingested too much. These sensations are often referred to as a green out or anxiety attack, and they can be incredibly uncomfortable for the unfortunate consumer. Though it is a good idea to cater to those that enjoy noise, as well as anyone who prefers peace and quiet while getting high. It is critical that you provide a safe and comfortable area for these consumers to come down, in. A room that is large enough to fit a futon and some additional seating for concerned friends is ideal. Dimmable lighting, an accessible bathroom, and free water should all be provided in these unfavorable circumstances. This will help to ensure that no-one is leaving your establishment while fighting through a panic and help to make the entire facility more inviting for anyone concerned about experiencing this adverse side effect.

5. Both private and open concept seating
A comfortable vape lounge should be able to accommodate any cannabis enthusiasts needs. Some customers might prefer a more intimate setting, while others will walk through the doors with 15 of their closest pals and want to be seated together. A lot of vape lounges offer comfortable couches throughout, but this offers little to no privacy. Instead, offering a booth option along with semi-separate group areas which can be easily moved around to allow for any size of group to make themselves at home.

6. Offer bongs, weed pipes and vaporizers for customers to use
Vaping is a little bit different than smoking cannabis, as the device controls precisely how the entire experience goes down. Some are equipped to handle any type of marijuana products, while others require a liquid to work correctly. A lot of the time vape lounge owners will go with whichever is the cheapest and most reliable, which results in limited options. Most stick with a brand of volcano, which is great for some consumers, but intimidating to others. Luckily, with a bit of innovation to the process, renting vapes to customers can turn into a large business, as we all know, that when a consumer finds something that they like, they are much more likely to buy it themselves. That is why offering a variety of different sized and designed vapes, bong and pipes is another common request from customers, who are too afraid to invest without trying them out first.

7. Accessible and well-lit smoking area
This one is important, as you will have many customers who choose to vape because it is healthier, and they aren’t going to want to wade through a crowd of cigarette or marijuana smokers to do it. Though you can’t stop anyone from smoking on public property, offering an easily accessible outdoor area, complete with privacy fencing and picnic tables will help to keep the problem to a minimum. It will also provide a level of discretion for your customers that might not want to be seen hanging around outside of a vape lounge. You’ll have to remember, despite cannabis being legal, there is still quite a stigma associated with its use, so many consumers will really appreciate this added feature and might not visit without it.

8. Decor
Many vape lounge designers go for a stereotypical stoner vibe, so they end up posting posters of pot leaves, bongs or weed, which leaves very little for customer interaction. Though these pieces can most definitely provide a nice touch, they should be elaborated on. It is very rare to see any part of the process that is making marijuana concentrate, and gorgeous images of various products can help to spark an educational conversation, while also providing a simplistic picture that is relatable and beautiful. Of course, you can choose to decorate any way that you like, but engaging customers will encourage sales as well as weed-related conversations.

9. Live entertainment and interactive options
Once a user gets good and stoned, one of the first things that they’ll look for is something that is easy and stimulating to do. For some people, old school arcade games are sufficient, while others hardly ever leave home as their favorite Xbox or PlayStation systems as awaiting them there. These are both excellent options for a more interactive crowd, but for those that don’t want to leave their seats or focus too much on anything, some lighter entertainment might go over better. Whether you employ a stand-up comedian, music artist, poet or choose to have an alternating schedule that offers a little bit of everything. Your visitors will be amazed and hang around all day long just to see the show.

10. Integrate the latest technology
The integration of technology into the cannabis industry has made leaps and bounds this past year, but very few consumer-based businesses have adopted this idea. Some cannabis dispensaries are now offering an interactive 3D image database that allows customers to browse through strains and view life like buds in a new and exciting way. Others have taken a slightly simpler approach and opted for tablets installed in tables for easy customer ordering. No matter which way you would like to use technology in your business, its presence speaks volumes and sells well, especially with the younger crowds that are accustomed to automation.

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