A familiar face has opened a new store on Cherokee Lane selling a unique set of wares. Horace “Elvis” Lucido has been a prominent figure at the Lodi Street Faire over the years selling sunglasses at his 30-by-10-foot booth.
Absent from last year’s faire, Lucido has reappeared in Lodi, taking up a permanent shop selling his trademark sunglasses — but that’s not all he sells these days.
Lucido opened King of Vapor on Dec. 5, the first electronic cigarette store in Lodi, in the former location of Sports City, 480 Cherokee Lane.
A smoker for more than 40 years, Lucido was up to 2 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day by the time he quit a few years ago, he said.
As an Elvis Presley tribute artist, smoking for so many years hindered his ability to perform properly as “the King,” he said.
About four months ago, he said he tried his first electronic cigarette and was sold on the concept.
“I was so convinced and happy with my own results, I knew there had to be a lot of people who would want to try this alternative,” Lucido said.
And since the store’s opening earlier this month, Lucido said he’s seen about 20 customers a day. Many come in to buy his sunglasses, but some also walk out with an electronic cigarette and accessories, he said.
Lucido chose Lodi because a lot of his street faire clientele live here, he said, and now they don’t have to go to Stockton for e-cigarettes and supplies.
Along with the actual “cigarette,” Lucido sells chargers and car adapters, cases, batteries, suction cup holders and necklaces to hang them from.
He also sells 30 flavors of eLiquid, the juice that is vaporized inside the cigarette pen after being heated.
One flavor Lucido carries is “The Fat Elvis,” which he says tastes like peanut butter and banana, a favorite snack of Presley’s that allegedly caused his weight gain in the 1970s.
The eLiquids range from zero to 24 milliliters of nicotine to help users taper off the drug. Lucido said he originally started on a 36 ML eLiquid, and has since tapered down to 6 ML.
He said his lungs feel clearer, his breath is clean, and he doesn’t smell of cigarette smoke and nicotine anymore.
“I can smell things I haven’t been able to smell in a while, and I can hit notes I haven’t been able to sing in a long time,” he said.
In addition to selling sunglasses and e-cigarettes, Lucido plans to have a testing room set up in the store, where customers can sit on a couch and sample flavors before they decide what to purchase.
In recent months, many cities have considered banning electronic cigarettes, claiming youngsters will take the habit up and become addicted. In addition, proponents of the ban claim those who use e-cigarettes will begin toxic addictions, and that the devices may pose health risks to the public.
New York’s city council approved a ban in December, and cities including Los Angeles and Chicago are considering bans as well.
But Lucido said e-cigarette can actually help people kick the nicotine habit.
“Nicotine is addictive,” he said. “And while nicotine is bad, it’s also the 5,000 other chemicals in a cigarette that can hurt you. These are free of all those.”
He said that when he first tried an e-cigarette, it looked very similar to a regular cigarette. It was white with a brown tip, and the end turned red when a user “inhaled.” Lucido said the stigma of looking like real cigarettes have led to the call for a ban.
The e-cigarettes Lucido sells look more like pens, and he said he’s used them inside buildings. Nobody has complained about them, he said.
“I don’t know what it’s like to carry a cigarette anymore,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s like to carry a lighter anymore because I don’t have to carry one. These are just so much better than actual cigarettes.”
King of Vapor is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. For more information, call 298-4320 or visit www.kingofvapor.com.
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at email@example.com.