Two Canadians are making big profits by selling fresh Rocky Mountain air canisters after Beijing’s first-ever red alert for air quality.
Beijing was placed under its first red alert from December 8-10, 2015 due to poor air quality, with children and elderly directed to stay indoors. Schools remained closed, residents were told to take public transit, and those who ventured outside were encouraged to wear masks.
The dire air quality scenario in China has been something of a boon to Canadians Troy Paquette and Moses Lam, who have begun selling canisters of fresh air, branded Vitality Air. The pair first conceived their business idea in 2014 after hearing from friends who visited Asia, and reported how poor the air quality was in the region – specifically in China.
The men conducted an experiment by capturing air in large Ziploc freezer bags and selling them on eBay for 99 cents. The second bag they placed online became entrenched in a bidding war, and eventually sold for an astonishing $168. This experiment lead to what is now Vitality Air.
The canisters have cap masks attached, and hold around 150 one-second sprays of air. Single and twin packs are priced at $16 to $46. In addition to a large customer base in China, Vitality Air has gained popularity in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan.
The two men travel from Edmonton to Banff and Lake Louise to fill large canisters with air, which are taken back to Edmonton to be bottled and prepared for shipment. “The way we capture the air now is a bit of a trade secret,” Paquette told VICE News.
Although the idea started as a novelty, Paquette stated that people are buying it “for everyday use.”