Monthly Archives: July 2015

Take note boutique brands…

consistencyI just read an article by David Garofalo of The Cigar Authority.  In it he basically says that, and I quote, “The Boutique Cigar Brand Boom is Over!”  He then goes on to explain why he feels that way just coming back from this year’s IPCPR show in New Orleans.  One strong point  he emphasizes is that the cigars the shops were buying were those brands that have been around for at least 20 years.  And then he backs that up with the fact that those brands may not all be great, but that they possess consistency.  Consistency.  And that’s what sells.  He also muses that it may take 20 years to build a brand, but it’s a brand’s attention to consistency that makes it a staple in cigar shops.

This is what you call a HINT boutique cigar guys.  Number one, the new boutique brands will take time to solidify in the marketplace (a very crowded one to boot) and when and if they last it will be due to the brand’s time after time after time repeat of excellent flavor, stellar construction and close attention to detail, including cost.

So the boom, DA BOOM! may not be over.  The world of boutique cigars is alive and kicking.  I’ve got plenty of shops that want to try something new because the cigar is different and the owner or manager thinks that it will sell.  And even though I’m a catalyst to building a brand, it’s up to the manufacturers of boutique brands to take note.

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Whadda ya say when you smoke a (expletive) cigar?

blank labelI had that experience today.  I mulled over the idea of just letting it go.  Most reviewers do.  Or they give it a low score.  Or they what?  I clipped the cap and the first thing I noticed was a soapy pre-light flavor from the tobacco.  Gesh.  Then I light it up and it only gets worse.  No delectable flavor.  No, “Damn, this is great!” no “I can’t wait to get another one of these.”  Nope.  It was one of those cigars from the show that I was given to smoke.  OK.  I tried it.  I just hope the manufacturer didn’t make too many or hand out a slew of ’em.  I won’t show the label.  I won’t print the name.  It is what it is.  A shitty cigar.

So what do I do?  I move on.  And desperately try to get the acrid flavor out of my mouth.  I keep the latter shut.

Catching up…

stacks of paperBack from NOLA, a bit tired, yet ready to hit the street. But I have to confess, especially to all the romantics out there who think all a cigar broker does is stand around cigar shops, shoot the shit and smoke cigars – there’s a lot of work involved.  Some includes answering emails, writing orders, solving problems, scheduling stops for the week, and picking who I will rep next.  So bear with me as this dull post just puts into perspective the – what? “behind-the-scenes” – look at the life of a cigar broker.

IPCPR 2015 Recap!

small crowdI had the time to blog for day one, but time got away from me for the rest of the trip and so I’ll go over the highlights:  I picked up some new lines and that info will be announced as soon as the ink is dry on the contracts.

The crowd was down this year, but that was predicted.  New Orleans is hot and muggy and the week I was there was no exception.  That fact kept some away, but those that did brave the weather were a part of cigar history.

me and phillyThe ultimate part of the trip was meeting old friends, making new ones, and just being able to talk about cigars, life, and the future without having to think about getting back in the car and having to go visit another shop.

muffalettaFood was excellent.  We sampled and and we ate and we ate (I brought the family and they had a blast!).  We destroyed an original Muffaletta at Central Market, had the best damn grilled catfish at Mother’s, and spent time with Island Jim Robinson and the gang from The Leaf at La Habana Hemingway Cigar Bar on Toulouse St. in the middle of the French Quarter.

Was it the same ol, same ol…to a degree yes it was.  But you can’t beat the cigar community. We are a tight group and we stick together.

Here’s one of the new ones.

americanaThere’s more to be said and it will be.

Talk to you soon.

After Day One!

acme line

The show started on time and the show ended on time. In between I visited several cigar booths, met a lot of old friends, and had a good day.  But what really was the cherry on top was eating my crawfish tails Po Boy at the Acme Oyster Bar in Downtown New Orleans (the “Nawlins” thing is old by now) with the family.  The line was long and the wait was worth it!  Hmmmmm.  Little tiny succulent tails with mayo mixed with hot sauce.  Yummy.  A cold Pepsi and I’m ready for tomorrow.

IPCPR@NOLA

willie mays nolaThis is it!  Next week (17-21).  When the cigar industry takes its brands and ply them for all IPCPR members to see. touch, hold, smoke, buy.  The convention will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.  The center, named after the city’s first black mayor (1978-1986), will be chock-full of cigar vendors, retailers, and those customers who can get past security by wearing a phony badge.  

This may be the last time the convention is held in NOLA due to the new smoking bans enacted months ago.  The IPCPR was given the “go ahead” this year, but it looks as if Sin City will be the association’s home of the convention for years to come.

Those retailers attending will meet and greet their old friends, the manufactures, the “stars” in the industry and certainly have an advantage over those who decide not to go or cannot attend for whatever the reason.  

jumping nolaI will be at a variety of booths, including The Leaf by Oscar (11610), Sublimes (15815), Daniel Marshall (11907), Marrero (1921), ENKI (13921), MBombay (18214), D&R (18803), and Tobacco Pipe Exports (18019).  But as I said I will use my phone as my hub.  I have no set time to be in any one booth.  Appointments turn into CFs,  So we’ll meet.  That’s for sure.

Enjoy the show!