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Cigar Insider: Heather’s Got Her Shop

17 Dec 2008

Few cigar merchants have generated more long-range interest in an unopened shop than Heather Waibel Haddad. For those who follow cigar blogs, podcasts, and boards, Heather is a friendly and familiar voice who has been pursuing her cigar dream for a few years. From her early anti-tax efforts in California to an online cigar operation in Texas, she recently took the next step with her Fumée Cigar Lounge in Cedar Park right outside Austin.

Nearly a year ago, we caught up with Heather for a lengthy cigar insider interview. Now that her shop is up and running, we thought you might like to know a little bit about what looks like a great place to enjoy a good cigar any time you’re in the Lone Star capital.

Stogie Guys: How are you getting the word out in the area that you are open and ready for business?

Heather Waibel Haddad: We are trying lots of things, from flyers in the neighborhood behind our store to more creative things like to join groups and invite them to have their meetings at our lounge. As a result, we’ve organized a bike night with a large group here in Austin. We’re also doing some traditional print ads, and have partnered with a local cigar group to have a poker night here.

SG: Since Austin’s a major university town, are you making any special efforts to reach younger smokers?

HWH: We are not, for two reasons. The first is that we are pretty far from the university. I’d say 40 minutes in traffic. The second is that we tried that strategy once. I did a cigar seminar for a fraternity and they snickered every time I said the words “long,” “big,” or “hard,” so I decided never to do that again.

SG: Another hallmark of Austin is live music. Do you have plans to try to tap into that scene to draw customers?

HWH: We are looking into having some acoustic stuff on special occasions, like our New Year’s Eve party. But our space is only 2,000 sq. ft. and a lot of hard surfaces; anything that requires an amp would just be too much. I’m thinking guitar, piano, maybe even strings, would work here.

SG: Looking at the photos on your website, the shop looks like a terrific place to enjoy a smoke. What about the Fumée Cigar Lounge sets it apart from other shops in the Austin area?

HWH: The primary thing is that we have a large lounge. There are four main competitors here in Austin. Two of them have only a couple of chairs, and the other two are very expensive private lounges. Our lounge is open to the public. We are also the only cigar shop in all of the Austin area that serves beverages. We are selling espresso, whole leaf teas, and non-alcoholic drinks until we get our liquor license.

SG: Is the shop going to affect your online sales operation, or will you do both?

HWH: It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The shop has really helped our online store because we have a lot more inventory now. As a result we’re seeing more activity online, and that’s paying the bills for the retail store right now.

Many thanks to Heather for taking the time to give us the update.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

2 Responses to “Cigar Insider: Heather’s Got Her Shop”

  1. CWS Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 2:03 am #

    Heather is one of the few if not only online shops that carries Flor de Jardin – great cigar. The service at Fumee is outstanding. I highly encourage the effort to check it out . . .

  2. Raphael L Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 4:33 am #

    I've never been to Texas, but this sure makes me want to go visit Austin. The pics look great. Best of luck to you, Heather.