Smile Politely

Steam Industries: Downtown Champaign’s hobbyist vapor shop

Steam Industries is your not-so-typical local vapor shop. Located in the heart of Downtown Champaign (right next door to Soma), it’s a relaxed and intriguing atmosphere, steering customers into the shop. With a welcoming staff and a wide selection of product, it’s definitely a must-see for vapor enthusiasts.  

I had the opportunity to speak with Dillon Gallo, the store manager, who has been working in the vapor industry for six years.

What sets Steam Industries apart from other local vapor shops is their caution and care for their product. Gallo says that “tobacco-naïve” customers have come into the shop looking to buy vapor, but because of their lack of established addiction with tobacco, they refused to sell them product. He’s also turned down potential customers who talk about using the vapors in an unsafe way (manipulating the coils). This is to make sure that the tools will not be used dangerously and harm others.

Dillon Gallo, store manager

I asked Gallo about vapor and smoking cessation to which he replied “We are a replacement for cigarettes, not a quitting device. The idea is to lessen the risk.”

When comparing the difference between smoking tobacco vs. vapors, they make an analogy of teaching abstinence is like not smoking at all, whereas using condoms is like using vapors — a safer form of tobacco.

Gallo states that all of their “juice” (tobacco infused liquid that is used to produce vapor) is made in a lab that has high standards for its production — something every vapor shop cannot say truthfully. Tobacco concentrations in the industry range from 3, 6, 9, 12 up to 24 mg. However, Steam Industries only offers up to 12 mg in their products. “We want to match your addiction, not feed it” Gallo says. “Giving you more than 12 mg of tobacco in juice is going to fuel your addiction” he added. 

The shop carries a line of vapor products including mechanical mods, re-buildables, and beginner devices. Also, for those enthusiasts, “hobbyist builds” are available. 

The shop has a machine that modifies vapor devices, which sets Steam Industries apart from your average stop for vapor products. They use a machine to drill holes in the mouth piece, which can produce more or less vapor. 

Vapor isn’t up and coming — it is here. This vapor shop definitely feels less a “head-shop” and more like a “smoking room.” Sort of like a futuristic Bacca Cigar Co., with a lot more smoke.

Steam Industries is located at 322 N. Neil in Downtown Champaign. The shop’s hours are Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight, and Sunday 12-8 p.m.

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