The term “School of Hard Knocks” has almost become a cliché since many people who survive it come from a less than stellar background or upbringing.
Drake Fischer didn’t come from that school, but he time there and learned the hard way, and in the end—today—he owns two successful smoke and vape shops in Idaho, one of the most unfriendly states for alternative products.
A lifelong Idahoan, he was exposed to smoke shops in 2010, when he went to work with a small shop in Twin Falls. All went well until 2012 when he sold one oz. of cannabis to a wired undercover cop. Due to some earlier juvenile troubles, the judge hit him hard—two years prison time. He was 22 at the time.
He spent two years behind bars when he got out in 2015.
He was broke, with just $400, and a criminal record. Knowing that finding a job would be tough, he and a friend bought some vape liquid directly from a manufacturer, each putting up $100.
Back then vape shops had insane profit margins, so they undercut them all, and over the summer sold $60,000 of product from their homes. In those pre-regulation days, Facebook groups, Craig’s List and Instagram were all they needed.
He saved some money and in 2016 opened shop number one in Bellevue, ID, since there were no other shops around. It was only 400 sq. ft., but he was up and running, and seven months later jumped into a larger 1000 sq. ft. location.
His mother was a successful business owner, so he hired her to keep the books, and take care of taxes and payroll. Today she is part owner and keeps everything in order.
He started a liquid line, Dead Presidents Liquid, and went on the road selling to shops nationwide, and says he’s been “in thousands of shops.” Through all his travels he researched the market for his own shop and brought back some of the best ideas from coast to coast. Priding himself on unique products, he admits, “we had some success, but we had our share of losers.” He was one of the first in the state to sell glass, and today is one of the few that sells kratom. To stay above board his shop also carries name brand tobacco, like Scotty’s Butternut Burley, and tries to stay out of the spotlight.
A random house search in 2017 voided his parole, and Drake found himself back behind bars, charged with holding 8 oz of pot at home.
He did another 18 months.
Meanwhile, his shop prospered thanks to Mom, his wife, and manager, and even from prison he convinced them to open shop number two, this one in Boise, where he was well known by the vape community.
Shop number two, just 600 sq. ft. prospered, and still does, and at age 32, Drake has the wisdom of a much older man, and the scars to prove it.
COVID changed their product mix and today they carry products that sell and generate about $40K per month between two shops. But volume has gone up consistently over the past year, and today they see hundreds of people daily.
The shop name, Durity, means “hardened, something that can endure pressure” and the name fits. Drake says that when your backs are against the wall, “that is when you keep on going.”
He’s learned his lessons and will continue to shine in Idaho for a long time.