Vendor Spotlight Vol 48: Ooze




In just over a year’s time, Ooze has released more than 20 products with more to come. The company has a retail-friendly approach that’s helping it become a hit in stores across the country.

One of the constructs that has prevailed in the smoke-shop industry for decades is that most things should be somewhat secretive.

The industry as a whole operates in a way that says you want to be noticed but you don’t want to be noticed too much. It isn’t all that surprising considering how the marijuana community has been marginalized by mainstream society and scrutinized by authorities for so long.

Well, times have changed. Look no further than Ooze, a Michigan-based smoking accessory company that exploded into the marketplace last year. Make no mistake, it definitely wants to be noticed. When Ooze launched, its first product was its glass globes, which lets vapers use concentrates in a glass tank-like attachment.

“It seemed like everybody was still trying to keep this whole thing hush-hush,” says Vince Ayar, one of Ooze’s co-owners, about the glass globes. “There wasn’t anybody putting a brand behind this. We said ‘fuck it, it’s legal, it’s getting out there and it’s become more and more successful, so let’s put a name behind it.’ That was really the overall concept — to take it mainstream, to get it out of the underground and put it in peoples’ faces.”

Ooze launched in April 2015, a company led by four owners with a variety of experiences, including one who had been in the vape business since 2007. Ayar, meanwhile, has an extensive retail history. All four of them saw opportunity, first in Michigan, but mainly all over the country.

Their first interest was incorporating concentrates into vaping, but Ooze has become many more things in just over a year’s time. It already has more than 20 products on the market, starting with the glass globes. But today there’s also glass bubbler attachments, entire vaporizer kits that include water bubblers and wax vaporizer pens, plus other accessories such as coils, grinders, silicon cases and a vape banger ashtray.

“We didn’t want to be like everybody else,” Ayar says. “When we got into the vaping side of it, obvious that was our main focus. But we always made it a point to not consider ourselves just another vaping company.”

That’s why they picked the name Ooze. It’s cool but doesn’t confine them to one product or style. It’s interesting and memorable without pigeon-holing their offerings.

“Vaping, at the time, was the best thing to do right away,” Ayar. “It was a cool thing to come out and create a splash, but slowly but surely we’re trying to transition into other parts of the industry too. Long-term, we’re looking to be something that can cater to any smoker, whether you like to smoke it or vape it. Whatever you want.”

Ayar comes from a retail background on various levels. He’s worked in food service and fashion. He’s been in the hospitality business and his family owned grocery stores.

“The way that’s helped me the most here is being able to see the other side of the business,” Ayar says. “When you’re in the wholesale and distribution side, you focus on what’s best for your side and what’s best for your business. A lot of things that we do, we try to keep the retailer in mind. I know what I like to see from my wholesalers and from my products. If someone doesn’t have the background of retail, it’s harder to think like a retailer.”

The tangible differences that’s brought to Ooze? The company knows how to best position itself in smoke shops, how to make its products more alluring to customers while also making store owners happy.

“We’ve been in retail for a long time,” Ayar says. “I know what a lot of the challenges are for a lot of these retailers.”

For instance: Their globe displays. If retailers buy a 32-count collection of globes, it comes in a display that can be more visible in the store.

“It’s merchandised well,” Ayar says. “It’s in peoples’ faces. People can pick it up and buy it. It’s making it accessible and putting it in peoples’ faces versus sitting in a showcase somewhere.”

As it added more products, Ooze worked for a similar point of view: It wanted products that stood out. As it was working with manufacturers, Ooze looked for new, cool products that people hadn’t seen before. The hardest thing, Ayar says, is picking and choosing which products are best to bring to market, because every component of every product is hand-picked.

“Our business model is completely different from some of the competition that’s out there,” Ayar says, noting Ooze is more about getting into stores across the country than selling online. “Putting it in the store and getting it in peoples’ faces.

“It’s easy to make the sale the first time. The real test is how often they re-order and our re-order rate is well over 90 percent. We carry a huge selection of productions. Our stuff doesn’t get buried in the store somewhere. We’ve had customers start with a few times and by a third or fourth order, they’re filling a whole showcase with our products.”

One reason? Customer service.

“Right now, the feedback and reviews have been phenomenal,” Ayar says. “That’s big. Especially with retail too. It’s very important for us to go out of our way to beat their expectations. I’d like to stress that. It’s something that we’ve been very successful with.”

Now the goal is to keep pushing, adding new products and reaching customers in new places. Ooze is currently working on a line of products aimed at convenience stores.

“Gas station and liquor stores,” Ayar says. “More products. A lot of new cool things that have a lot of appeal and haven’t been seen before. Every day is a new day. We’re always trying to find something that surpasses what’s out there.”

This keeps their staff of about a dozen employees very busy. So busy that you might not believe Ooze hasn’t even been around for two years yet.

“We’re not slowing down,” Ayar says. “We’re just getting started.”



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