Monthly Archives: December 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

garage bourne

There are only a few more hours of 2017 left on the calendar.  And what do you think this cigar broker is doing to pass the time?  Easy.  I’m in the PRESTO Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7) flipping through movie clips of the Jason Bourne series having a cigar and freezing my ass off.

Thanks for your support for reading “The Blog.”

I’ll have new material starting January 1st, 2018.

This new year is going to be a doozy.  I’ve changed everything.  Scheduling.  Shops to visit.  Cigars to represent.  And best of all, I have made a commitment to myself to have FUN in 2018!  I hope you are here to experience the changes because they are draconian in nature.  They may be subtle, but they are transforming as I write this very post.

Keep your eyes on www.irvcigarbroker.com and enjoy.  Especially IRV TV!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Peace and Love.  Peace and Love.

Irv

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzw6A2WC5Qo

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Just go with it.

frigid irv

(For full effect, first click the link below, then click the post.  Enjoy the read.)

When the temperature outside is below zero, my desire for smoking a cigar goes up proportionately.  The above statement is not born of a scientific conclusion but rather an emotional one that has been proven three days in a row.  Now whether or not that is considered a conclusive psychological finding I can’t really say, but I do know this, I found myself standing in the PRESTO Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7) right smack dab in front of the heating element that was glowing as bright an orange as it possibly produces.  It was on the highest setting it could manage and I was still getting a cold breeze from the air around me.  The question is why was I there?  The answer is because the obscene frigid cold weather was forcing me, drawing, pulling me into the garage a.k.a. as the lounge to have a cigar.  I just stood there.  I was freezing my arse off without a book, without a magazine, without a notepad, just the radio playing great oldie tunes 87.7 FM, and the bloody cigar – sucking in frigid smoke, trying-to-heat-up-the-air drawing through the leaves and I actually was not all that uncomfortable!  But this is the third day in a row I have done this and if this arctic cold stream continues to flow through the Midwest, I’ll find myself at the PRESTO Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7) for the next few days. What is it? It’s bleedin’ insane that’s what it is.  But it’s as if I have no choice whatsoever. My son took the picture and his buddy thought I was going mad.  Well, that is a possibility.  Isn’t it? Or could my hypothesis be true?  Who’s going to prove me wrong? What am I going to do?  I guess I’m going to prepare for the worse and continue to dress as warm as I can and go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.   Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it. Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.   Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.   Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it.   Just go with it.  Just go with it.  Just go with it. 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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7lduM861hE&t=70s

(New Posts begin 1.1.2018)

Dry cigar from 2015 sates jonesing.

dry nbk

Shit.  Shit.  Shit.

That’s all that went through my mind as I rummaged through every pocket I had.  I know I put it in my coat pocket and that’s what I was looking forward to after visiting my Mom. But no matter how many times my hands plunged into every cloth orifice, it wasn’t there.  

Damn!

So what do I do?  No cigar for the trip home.  Son-of-a-bitch.  Yes.  I was angry. Sometimes after visiting my Mom, I’m so depressed the cigar is all I have to look forward to.  Golden years my ass.

Ok.  So I could have gone back to the facility and retraced my steps, but I decided not to. I would be homebound – sans cigar.  Damn.  Damn.  Damn.  

Then the memory light went on.  Wait a minute.  I had to take my insurance card out of my plastic bag in the car where I keep important documents the other day and if memory served me correctly there were two NBKs from Black Label Trading Company in there mixed in with all the papers.

I slammed open the glove compartment and pulled the bag out and lo and behold if there weren’t two of ‘em.  Now keep in mind, these have been in the car since 2015 when they first came out.   Why I kept them in there is simple – I forgot about ’em.   But now, now!

I opened the bag and took one out.  I slipped off the cello and the label came off as well. It looked ok to me.  Yeah, it was dry.  But it had been in the plastic bag so I reckoned they couldn’t be that bad.  Could they?

I didn’t care.   I wanted a cigar and I was going to have a cigar so I snipped off the cap and I will admit it was like a stick of sand.  Specks of dried tobacco leaf floated onto my jeans.  I took my torch and lit that mother up.  Poohey.  Yeah.  Dry.

What kind of satisfaction was I going to get?  I didn’t care about that either.  I was going to have a cigar on my way home – period.  I put the car in drive and away I went puffing and laughing like a lunatic who just escaped from the insane asylum.

Draw?  Not bad.  Flavor?  Acceptable.  Would it hold up?   Two years plus without the proper humidification, what should I expect?  I grappled with my phone.  I needed a record of this.  So I’m swerving and smoking flipping my vision from the road to the screen.  Taking a picture while I’m speeding down the expressway may not be the wisest decision I’ve made in the last 24 hours.  But I was maniacal in my quest.

I took one shot.  Blurry.  I took another.  I looked like a goon.  I took another.  All this time I’m actually enjoying the smoke.  It was different.  The oils had dried up, the wrapper was beginning to crack but I just kept on my merry way.

Finally, I took a .jpg that was totally unexpected.  That’s it!  Use it.  It’s all I got.

Eventually, I get it where the burn is straight, the draws are beginning to moisten up.  I’m in cigar heaven. Best smoke on earth?  For now.  You betcha.

Twenty-seven degrees.  I have the window cracked open.  I’m smoking a two plus-year-old cigar and I’m enjoying it.  “He likes it!”  

I pull into the driveway.  I pitch it.  Sparks fly as the dry remnant hits the branches of the bushes.  I’m ready to go inside.  I turn.  Wait.  Backseat.  There.  On the floor.  My cigar.

Shit!  Shit!  Shit!        

Scheduling the coming months.

straight cut

Scheduling the year can be pretty simple. Or it can be like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with the picture side down.  That’s what I did today. I look at last year’s calendar and see how it worked out  This year was a good year.  But there were a lot of changes and challenges that really disrupted the flow of my original scheduling.  But overall, it was a sound roadmap to a very profitable year.

As you know independent cigar broker’s get paid on commission.  And only commission. If we don’t sell, we don’t get paid.  So the less travel and confusion the better it is for financial gain.  I get a kick out of these guys who say they want to be independent cigar reps.  They haven’t a clue what it involves.  Romance.  Give me a break.

I started out slow.  Just a few states.  Three to be exact,  Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. All close by and with very little overnight travel.  Then as the saying goes, more is better so I   began to add states. I ended up at the peak with nine states.  Nine.

And for about five years, I covered nine states.  I was away from the family every other week.  And at first, it was great. And then the bottom fell out of my psyche and I began to melt like the wicked witch at the conclusion of the Wizard of Oz.  Yeah, the money was great, but becoming a patient at the local hospital wasn’t.  

And I have to emphasize that this was my idea.  No one told me to go to nine states.  But I figured more states equals more money.  And guess what.  It’s true.  But my gut was talking to me and figuratively begged me to stop the madness and I did.  Cold Turkey.  Put the brakes on that fast and the trash in front is going to hit the windshield.  But I survived the crash.

So now with a manageable four states, I still have to deal with my ailment, that’s with me for the rest of my life (thank you broker madness), I can move my business around if you will to accommodate the stars.  And flexibility is what I fear losing the most.  And that usually comes under the guise of a sales manager.

Phooey on them!  I worked for a guy once that worked for a guy who knew a manufacturer who told him that if he hired a sales manager like he did, his overall sales would increase by a whopping 60%!  Well, that cigar company is on its last legs and the percentage increase was a myth because independent brokers do not need sales managers.  If the owner isn’t involved in the everyday affairs of a boutique cigar business that brand is doomed to fail.  And I don’t care how successful the brand is right now.  Sales managers are bristly burrs on the inside of an independent reps gut.  I know. Oh Lord, I know.  I follow one simple rule.  Guess what it is?  

So, I am done.  The year is in pencil.  I know I’m going to have to change things around, but this gives me a very straight cut on what I have to do.  (Yes, I would love to rep New York, but my accent would give me away.)

 

Magical Cigars. Mythical Chanel.

oscar-display

Cigars have to stand out in order to be noticed.  Especially in today’s marketplace.  It’s simple, there are just too many cigars out there.  So we have a marketing problem.  It really doesn’t matter what the cigar tastes like at first sight.  It’s that first look that is going to attract the consumer.  

Every company also has the answer, too.  Oh yes.  Every manufacturer will tell you straight out that their band will produce eyes like Margaret Keane painted.  Trouble is, it ain’t so.  If that were the case every cigar would be noticed and hopefully plucked out of the box and purchased.

So what to do?  The creative imagination has to be revved into top gear.  And this trend toward intellectual magnetism has gotten so competitive that it’s almost a miracle when someone comes along and actually does it right.

One perfect example is The Leaf by Oscar.  When that cigar was first introduced to the public at the IPCPR a few years ago, the first impressions was “Damn, that is one ugly m@\$#F+-%*”g cigar.  It’s a gimmick.  Even if it was a hollow attempt to draw your attention, i.e. the cigar had to be trash.  Truth be told, I thought the same thing when I first saw it.

Here’s the kicker – the packaging of a tobacco leaf wrapped around a gorgeous cigar ignited interest.  It not only grabbed your attention but the cigar held up.  Not only in construction but in flavor.  But what’s the true test on any cigar?  Consistency.  And this ugly duckling passed that test with flying wrappers.  The idea was a one-in-a-million shot and it passed passivity.  Its unique, pre-wrapper insights intriguing interest so well that it has to be considered one of the best selling boutique cigars on the market today.  And so far that popularity is edging its nose right into Tomorrowland.

Another bullseye is by Black Label Trading Company by creating bands with a Gothic theme that draws your vision away from the traditional paper rings.  One such inception is been branded with a name that kills  – or at least stings (excuse the pun) – Killer Bee. This little gem has a cap that resembles the muted yellow and matte black (Connecticut or Habano and Maduro) stripéd abdomen of those nasty buzzing picnic pests.

Yet, some just don’t get it and go with the traditional gold-embossed bland band that is easily overlooked.  It’s not an easy task where the attention span of the average human mind is approximately eight seconds.  That doesn’t sound like a lot of time and it isn’t. But that’s all the time a cigar maker has to turn your head from the competition.

All businesses do something that will assimilate their product into your consciousness amid the vast wasteland of the continuous din that surrounds us every second of our lives.  One glorious and brilliant example is in the November issue of Vogue magazine. The product is about 96 years old.  The name is synonymous with social class and is so recognizable one might think the marketing magicians on Fifth Avenue would be out of ideas by now.  But they are not.

new chanel

“Introducing Gabrielle Chanel,” the newest addition to one of the most – if not the most – popular fragrance company in the history of perfumes (excluding the oldest scent still being offered today –  Eau de Cologne.)

So how did the advertisers set this new scent apart?  It started with tactile accentuation. The paper is about four times the thickness of the magazine’s standard paper.  So you just go there.   On the first page is printed “Introducing Gabrielle Chanel.”  You can’t miss it due to the page’s thickness.  Flip the page and to the left is a model that seems to be staring at the page to its right.  And on that page is a perfect photo of an oversized bottle of the fragrance.  To its right toward the edge is a graphic of a smaller bottle sprouting a miniature tab with an arrow pointing up.  What will everyone do?  Pull the tab.  And when they do, they are immediately immersed in the heavenly scent of Gabrielle. Brilliant.  

Flip that page over and the reader is greeted to two more pictures of this new product. The pages then return to their normal thickness and if you wish to read further, you are hit with another add for a book all about the famed covers of this iconic fashion magazine.

That my friend is the epitome of getting your attention.  And that is what marketing is supposed to do.  Some will.  Some won’t.

It’s not just the blend be it perfume or cigars.  It’s having the imagination and the intestinal fortitude to toddle down the path of precious moments of courage you believe in.

We are the People.

the preamble

Anyone remember the television show “I’ve Got A Secret?”  It was hosted by Garry Moore (1952-1964).  The gist of the program was that four panelists would try to guess what an ordinary contestant did.  And believe it or not, Garry smoked a Winston cigarette throughout the entire show.  Eventually, Winston became a sponsor.  

Dean Martin puffed on his cigarette at the conclusion of his long-running (1965-1974) variety show.  No one really knew if he was a little tipsy or not, but the red glow was omnipresent as he told sexually suggestive jokes and rambled on about whatever he thought was funny.

Irv Kupcinet, the Chicago columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, smoked a cigar throughout his talk show that was launched in 1943 and stayed on the air for six decades.  The show was on Saturday nights and I can still remember staying up until 2 am watching it as he and his guests discussed the matters of the week.

Each show was the first of its kind and of course, smoking wasn’t prohibited.  In fact, smoking back then was considered “normal.”  

It wasn’t until the Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, came out with his “1988 Report when it was (revealed) that nicotine has an addictiveness similar to that of heroin or cocaine (that he was to be remembered forever).  Koop’s report was somewhat unexpected, especially by those who expected him to maintain the status quo in regard to his office’s position on tobacco products. During his tenure, in 1984, Congress (already had) passed legislation providing for new, rotated health warning labels on cigarette packs and required advertising to include the labels.”  The 1988 reveal was the first nail in the coffin of our liberties of choice.

Point?  It only takes one person’s opinion who has a modicum of power to change the world.  And change the world of smoking he did.  And all the sheep began to follow.

So it is with all seriousness that we, as smokers of cigars, can also change the world.  Yes, we are living in troubled times, but having a cigar or two is not that far up the ladder of legislation to cause such a maelstrom of maddeningly frustrating laws when there is so much more to deal with in this crazy mixed-up world we currently live in.  Think New York.

One person can change the direction we are headed.  A direction that has the power to slowly take away our civil liberties.

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States reads, “ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Perhaps those we have put into office (power) should memorize that phrase, “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . .”