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Stogie Tips: A Little Shoptalk

12 Oct 2009

If you’re a regular smoker fortunate enough to have several cigar shops near your home or workplace, you undoubtedly have opinions about each of them. Sometimes choices are simple—when, for example, only one is open on Sundays and you want to smoke and watch football. But others can be trickier.

Cigar Store IndianFor new smokers still deciding which shop to patronize most, here are four keys to look for. While they’re all important, lets keep in mind that there are undoubtedly great shops that would fail on several accounts.

A good owner. I feel better when the owner is present and involved. It indicates the shop is in the hands of someone who has invested himself as well as his money. Practically, this isn’t always possible. But when it is, I think it says something positive.

A well-kept stock. The humidor should be consistently close to 70 degrees and 70 percent relative humidity. Many smokers keep their personal humidors at different settings, particularly less humidity. With the frequent air exchanges and extremes, though, it’s better to keep the levels up in tobacconists. I also like to see a high-quality thermometer and hygrometer.

Neatness. It counts, just like your mother told you. Seeing dust collecting on cigars, jumbled boxes on display shelves, or overflowing ashtrays creates doubts about how well the stock is treated.

Variety in selection. This one is a bit tricky because smokers reading this article are much more likely to want to try new cigars than the average customer. The store owner has to stock what sells or he can’t stay in business. So I don’t hold it against a shop if it doesn’t have rows and rows and rows of boutique brands. I will be disappointed, however, if there’s little more than the likes of Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Punch, and Macanudo to choose from.

That’s what I look for in a great tobacconist. What would you add to this list?

George E

photo credit: Flickr

11 Responses to “Stogie Tips: A Little Shoptalk”

  1. Chris Farley Monday, October 12, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    I agree with all of those points, although for variety, I like to see magazines that describe and detail cigars that the owner can and will order for you.

    I also like to see accessories. I need a place to get good butane for my lighters, buy cutters, buy a cigar ashtray, etc. I think a good cigar shop should support all aspects of cigar smoking.

    I also like to see a copy of the Stogie Guys Newsletter on the coffee table in the smoking lounge.

  2. George E. Monday, October 12, 2009 at 3:56 am #

    Chris – Good points. Thanks for the input.

  3. Chris V Monday, October 12, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Girls in bikinis?

  4. LazyBoy Monday, October 12, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    I've always been partial to comfy chairs and couches…

  5. Frye Monday, October 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    As a member of the US armed forces, I have been fortunate enough to frequent cigar establishements all over the US and the world. Along with your great points, I have two to add:

    1. Leather furniture. It keeps the smell out! I really don't want to smell the cheap, poorly wrapped, chocolate coffee flavored acid stick that someone smoked 3 weeks ago when I'm trying to enjoy a Gurka Centurian and a glass of 20-year-old scotch. (No offense to those who enjoy acid cigars…it's just not my thing.)

    2. A "well-selected" top shelf. Now I understand that this is very subjective topic, but I like seeing a top shelf that includes Rocky Patel, Gurka, and any name brand, well-aged vintage. If I see Hoyo de Monterey or Partagas up there, I'll leave, because obviously the place doesn't know what "top shelf" really means.

    And as a bonus: If I walk into a place and see Black and Milds, Garcia Vaga's, or any kind of a cigarillo or cigarette…I'll leave.

    I'm by no means a snob, but if you claim to be a true cigar establishment, these are three things that I feel you must have (or not have)!

  6. Alex S Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    I like a place that is bright and feels like home. A lot of these place are dark with a business feel to them.

  7. George E. Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 4:02 am #

    Alex – You make an excellent point. Every shop – cigar and otherwise – has a "personality" you notice when you walk in. Making a good first impression is vital to getting customers to return.

  8. Tony K Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Agree with your points. I am also noticing a difference in the 2 shops closest to me. One is helpful, but lets me look around. The other is very pushy and always follows me right into the humi-room. They ask what am I looking for, and when I say I'm browsing and not sure yet, they keep asking and promoting, though I again say I would just like to see what I feel like….they stand there and hover. Too much pressure….feels like hurry up and buy and go. So, I end up buying much less than I would have. And now I will just not go there anymore.

  9. George E. Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Tony – I know what you mean. I don't mind being asked if I want any help or being told what's new or on special, but I often take forever checking out the stock and deciding what I want. Having someone hover — which, fortunately, isn't much of a problem for me — usually creates discomfort, the last thing you want at a cigar shop.

  10. Adam B. Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    that's totally the Indian from Burke Cigar isn't it?

  11. Mike E Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    I am lucky to have jr cigars 30 minutes away. Good selection but definitely not your mom and pops cigar store.