DELMAR — One business falls while another rises.
Although Interstate Vapor temporarily closed its Delmar storefront last month due to growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Leo Carusone said he’s since made the closure permanent.
“It was an emotional decision to close because we’ve met so many great people and loyal customers who have become our friends,” Carusone said. “We took the business from nothing and made it pretty successful for five years. We kind of saw it coming though for the last few months.”
Delmar’s only standalone vape shop will continue selling its products online through June 30, but a March break-in and the state’s upcoming ban on the sale of flavored vapor products prompted Carusone to close.
Carusone and his store fell victim to a break-in just prior to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to shut down non-essential businesses amid the pandemic last month. Bethlehem Police Department reported the arrest of three teenagers alleged to have stolen “multiple items” from Carusone’s store on March 18. Bethlehem Police Cmdr. Adam Hornick said the three are also alleged to have broken into the neighboring Delmar Wine and Liquor store and Bethlehem Central High School.
The vape shop was left ransacked, Carusone said.
The unnamed teenagers were each charged with felony burglary, felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor petit larceny.
The store was also further hit when the State Assembly passed its anticipated ban on flavored vapor products in early April. The law all but forces the closure of storefronts like Interstate Vapor by next month. It will also prevent the online sale of the vapor products starting July 1.
Continuing online sales through June 30 was a way “to not leave our customers behind all high and dry,” Carusone said. “It would also give them time and a chance to find other places.”
First opened in 2015, Interstate Vapor was run by Carusone and his son, John. To shop Interstate Vapor products online, visit www.usvaporshop.com.
With the closing of one chapter, another one begins.
Carusone said he and his son have developed a new venture named Bethlehem Seamless Gutters that is to start operations on May 1. The father-son duo will offer seamless gutters installation, old gutters replacement, leaf protection and gutter cleaning.
Operating from their Selkirk house, Carusone said the May start date would coincide with the warming weather.
“At the moment, we’re just going out and getting people quotes and even with the pandemic, we’ve never had to do any face-to-face interaction if people don’t want to,” Carusone said. “People can reach us online or by call or email.”
He added that Bethlehem Seamless Gutters can function during the pandemic as the state considers it an essential business among the “essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses.” He said home improvement is important as lack of gutter maintenance can lead to foundation damage or wood rot, for example.
Carusone said that while working on gutters, the homeowner does not necessarily interact physically and closely with him or his son, dispelling a concern about social distancing. “We can do everything and chat with the homeowner over the phone or online and when we do the actual work, it’s outside,” he said.
Bethlehem Seamless Gutters stems from Carusone’s background in remodeling and home improvement, previously owning another aptly-named business, Leo Carusone Home Improvement, from 1999 to around 2013. Although it initially focused on improving kitchens, decks, bathrooms and more, residents were more interested in improving their gutters, according to Carusone, “and we ended up doing so much of that for years.”
Carusone expressed gratitude for local residents and customers who supported him and his son through the years.
“It was definitely sad to close Interstate Vapor but I’m also looking forward to working with my son with our new business,” Carusone said. “Working with my son was probably the best part of running Interstate Vapor and I think everything’s going to work out.”
For more information, visit Bethlehem Seamless Gutters’ website at bethlehemseamless.com, or call 518-301-3299.