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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Associations between Yelp Online Reviews and Vape Shops Closing or Remaining Open One Year Later.


Vape shops are popular brick-and-mortar stores that sell e-cigarette products but are not understood well. Previous analysis of Yelp reviews of vape shops located in various ethnic neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California in 2014 identified characteristics of vape shop as delineated by consumers. In this study, we assessed the associations between these characteristics and vape shops going out of business in 2015. Content analysis of Yelp reviews of 72 vape shops in 2014 identified 1) general characteristics of the reviews/reviewers, 2) vape shop, staff, and marketing attributes, 3) physical environment, and 4) health claims. In 2015, in-person visits confirmed that 22% of these vape shops closed permanently. We analyzed whether characteristics/attributes identified in 2014 associated with stores remaining open (n = 56) or permanently closing (n = 16) in 2015. Univariate findings showed that open vape shops relative to closed shops had greater 1) number of reviews, 2) rebuilds/fixings, 3) ratings of staff attributes as "helpful/patient/respectful," and 4) report of the physical environment as "bar type." Bar type vape shops and those with rebuilding/fixing capabilities were associated with staying open, suggesting the popularity of these attributes. Yelp consumer reviews is a useful research tool to identify consumer-determined important sustaining attributes of vape shops and may be used to identify aspects of enduring shops that need regulations.

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