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Guest Commentary: One Should Be Wary of Black Cats

22 Apr 2008

[Editors’ Note: The following is a guest commentary by Gary J. Arzt. Mr. Arzt is a Florida-based investor and a contributor to a number of cigar publications. In the interests of transparency, the author wants it to be known that he was first a devotee to Pepin Garcia’s cigars and has since become a good friend of Don Pepin and the Garcia family.]

Don Pepin GarciaSam Driban of Black Cat Cigar Company was an early friend and fan of Don Pepin. Three years ago, Pepin started to make a cigar called Rey Miguel for him.

Last month, according to the screed on his website, Driban received a call from John Gonzales, “a man I’ve never met,” who is, nonetheless, the National Sales Manager for Don Pepin brands. Gonzales advised him that Pepin’s company could no longer make Rey Miguel for Black Cat.

Driban was “…upset, as I considered him a friend.” He felt he had been “blown off.”

But he had a plan to get even. He ordered a large quantity of Pepin’s cigars – JJs, Black labels, Blue labels, Vegas Cubans – and listed them on the Black Cat website at absurdly low prices, prefaced with this story of “betrayal.” Sending a mixed message, Driban says, “Enjoy these cigars at rock bottom prices as I no longer wish to help my former friend.” He follows this with, “I hope that one day soon our relationship can be reconciled.”

I am sure Pepin is elated at the prospect of reconciliation. Just as I am sure Pepin didn’t do what he did to damage the relationship and upset Driban. The dynamics of companies, especially companies growing at the rate of Pepin’s, change constantly and, unfortunately, Rey Miguel no longer was a good fit. Small production cigars will only cause dislocation in a Tabacalera producing Don Pepins, 601s, San Cristobals, and Tatuajes.

In an industry that I always saw as peopled by gentlemen, there has been too much acrimony of late. One has no choice, I suppose, but to yap at the heels of the top dog.

Gary J. Arzt

[UPDATE: Mr. Driban’s response can be found here.]

photo credit: El Rey de los Habanos

14 Responses to “Guest Commentary: One Should Be Wary of Black Cats”

  1. Padronnie Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 4:22 am #

    Always a shame to see this stuff in the cigar community.

    But I guess it happens to every industry where the bottom line is profit.

  2. Don Carlos Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 7:18 am #

    Interesting post today, Stogie Guys. I look forward to the Black Cat response tomorrow.

    P.S. Really enjoyed your interview on Chicago radio on Sunday. Great work!

  3. Alex - Cigar Bunch Friday, April 25, 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    I am sorry, but Black Cat prices for Don Pepin cigars are not rock bottom. There are a couple of reputable cigar websites who always had them cheaper than current black cat prices.

  4. big mike Friday, April 25, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

    hey alex please please tell me where to get the box of 20 1979 cuban classic for less than $82 please

  5. big mike Saturday, April 26, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    alex sorry i am getting a little excited could you also tell me where you get your blue invictos for less than $114

  6. Alex - Cigar Bunch Saturday, April 26, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    I don't like to advertise for any online retailer but first one is cigarbiz. Here is the link:
    and second one is cheaper cigars:

  7. big mike Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you alex

  8. Dan Monday, April 28, 2008 at 5:54 am #

    I would call and Black Cat Cigar's prices "rock bottom". They are barely above wholesale. Interestingly, (also Sam's) has the Pepin Blue and Pepin Black listed at closer to B&M prices.

  9. 502 Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 4:49 am #

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  10. 502 Friday, October 23, 2009 at 2:43 am #

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