64 - May
headline recently caught
attention in the
a depressed economy and the legal assaults on smokers' rights,
the premium cigar market in the USA is on the rise again - it's
up nearly 10% on the previous year. The USA imported 195 million
units in the first 10 months of 2002 compared with 179 million
in the same period in 2001.
Davidoff of Geneva and the Arnell Group have just launched their
Zino-Platinum range which starts at $29 per cigar, and tops out
at $39. Business is brisk says David Kitchens of Manhattan's Davidoff
Cigar Shop - I've sold $50 000 worth of them".
Most of the major premium brands are growing nicely from the 2001
bottom, and as with many events the "second time round"
will be better controlled than the first (1991) boom. The consensus
for maintaining this growth is that the bandwagon "Don Nobodies"
should remain out of the trade and the quality of the cigars on
the shelves must continue to be consistently good and good value,
so that both existing and new smokers will be getting real value
for their money.
The Cigar Aficionado November 2002 Big Smoke event in Las Vegas
was attended by nearly 6000 people - 1000 up on 2001.
Big Smokes - we attended the May 2000 event at the Marriott Marquis,
New York; the first session: 4.30 to 7.00 pm.
We arrived just after 4 pm to find that we were about No.200 (or
more) in the queue which in true Walt Disney style wound in and
out of places and fixtures so that you wouldn't see the front.
My concern, voiced to Gillian, about how long it would take for
everyone to register was overheard by a tall young veteran of
these events - "We'll all be inside in 20 minutes" he
re-assured me. And he wasn't far out - all 1200 of us!
Equipped with a Cigar Aficionado
carrier bag, a Catalogue of Exhibitors, a floor map and a book
of vouchers we set off on our cigar hunt. Fortunately Gillian
is a great navigator, so we soon found the stalls we were after
- Arturo Fuente, Padron, Partagas, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey and
Felipe Gregoria (all non-Cuban of course). At the Punch stand
you were given your cigar, a minute to prepare yourself and then
seated on a stool and photographed in front of the famous Punch
logo. Your portrait was ready in 30 minutes. The cigar lasted
much longer and was really stunning - Gillian smoked her Churchill
to the very end.
By 5.15 pm the smoke was rising**; by 5.45 pm drinks and snacks
had been devoured and the noise volume increased proportionately;
by 6 pm you were discussing cigars with strangers "You get
Cuban cigars in South Africa? Man, are you lucky."
The whole atmosphere was vibrant.
By 6.45 pm people
were starting to filter out.
It was quite an experience, but it's not a function where you
sit back and savour a cigar - it's a joyous bun fight, and cigars
are the buns! You need to plan your attack quickly and move fast
or the best of the cigars, snacks and drinks can run out.
It was a truly American event - and we enjoyed every moment of
recent cigar event at the Grillhouse we found that their extraction
system worked much better than the one at the Marriott! By
the way, we're planning another event in the near future - keep
watching this site.)
cigar event had its farcical moments. We had primed the restaurant
that there should be plenty of ashtrays, and attentive waiters
to make sure the ashtrays were replaced regularly. However we
omitted to make the point that a cigar in the ashtray did not
mean that it was finished, and one smoker found on a return from
a comfort break that his unfinished Partagas Serie D #4 had been
replaced with a sparkling clean ashtray - he couldn't believe
were early days - they know better now, and if the restaurant
had had proper cigar ashtrays it wouldn't have been necessary
to remove them.
A cigar ashtray should have an adequate holding slot to rest the
cigar when it is still being smoked, and also to ensure that the
end of the cigar is held above the ash.
A classic example is the crystal cigar ashtray we have on
special - ideal for
Fathers' Day in June.
Fathers' Day, we'll shortly be presenting a "Fathers' Day
Window" on the website where you can see a selection of top
ideas from the Wesley's Franchise Shops, and some for online sales.
That should save a bit of thinking and walking.
May 8 to May 21, 2003
You can read
previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The