You might be wondering what drug store owners Ken and Cyndi Long; Charlotte capitalist Martin Sumichrast; and legendary college basketball announcer Billy Packer have in common.
In Columbia, it is former USC Gamecock Jadeveon Clowney.
Sumichrast, the Longs and Packer are investors in Clowney’s first business venture, KURE Columbia Vaporium and Lounge, a sleek vaping bar and lounge that opened Tuesday in the Vista. The investors – friends of Clowney – were on hand for the Capital City opening, greeting about 50 guests and Gamecock fans.
“When Jadeveon got interested in doing this, I was told one of the things he wanted was a local business person to help him oversee it,” said Ken Long, an avid USC fan, donor and friend of USC athletics.
“They called me and asked if I’d like to be involved ... and we thought it would be fun.”
Clowney, now a member of the Houston Texans, said he chose to open the vaping bar in Columbia over other cities because he played football here, has a home and friends here, and thought the Vista was a good place to make an investment.
“Really, I got into this because of my mom, who was a smoker,” Clowney said. “But, actually, I wanted to try something outside of football and see how it goes on the business end. I chose Columbia because I’ve been here, I know what type of people are here, and I said nothing’s better than Columbia. I didn’t know how long I’ll be in Houston.”
Clowney said he is in training now, coming back from a year with an injury.
Sumichrast, chairman of Charlotte-based KURE Corp., said Clowney is one of the new store owners in a business that is destined to overtake traditional cigarette smoking in popularity. Packer, known for calling college basketball games, said he got into the investor end of Clowney’s business to help be a guiding light for success.
Clowney’s KURE bar is located at 620 Gervais St., Suite B.
Eric Watts, who quit smoking two years ago, enjoys vaping now instead and is at the lowest end of the nicotine additive allotment available for his vaporizer. “I’m not sure (that made me quit), but I do enjoy the flavors. This place is a really nice place, but what brought me here tonight was actually Clowney.”
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398