It's both interesting and disturbing to me that attendance at our annual retail show always seems predicated on the actual location of the event. This is the second consecutive year that we're in New Orleans for the show and attendance was noticeably down. Too bad. I say that for two reasons. The first is that New Orleans is an awesome city! The food is off the hook and the locals are always colorful. The second and probably most important is that in my view as an IPCPR retail member, there is an obligation to support our trade organization and the participating vendors. Without retailers support there is little return on investment and believe me it costs big dollars to display at almost any trade show regardless of the industry.
Next year the show will be in Las Vegas and I can almost guarantee that attendance will be significantly higher. Personally, I'd take New Orleans every time! The food is superior, there is far more diversity and it's a whole lot less expensive (eaten at a 'celebrity' restaurant lately?). Lodging is 25%-50% less and I can book a non-stop from Tampa via Southwest and be there within an hour an a half. Anyway. I digress. Attendance will be way up at next year's show without a doubt! How about Miami as a future show site? Now we're talking! The vast majority of the cigar manufacturers are based there and the Miami Beach convention center is within walking distance of South Beach and some pretty awesome nightclubs and restaurants.
A few random thoughts...
Jonathan Drew is one of the nicest and most genuine people that I have ever had the pleasure of calling friend. The Drew Estate display area always has the most buzz at the show! This year they were giving away custom painted Chuck's for qualifying purchases. There were hundreds of pairs on display all over the booth area each one a unique creation from the Acid Sub Culture team in Esteli, Nicaragua.
We had to travel to New Orleans to be under a tropical storm warning! It never came to fruition but WTH?!?
Ernesto (Ernie) Carillo (La Gloria Cubana fame) is back and the cigar samples I received and smoked were a rather pleasant surprise as I'm not the biggest La Gloria fan. As you might expect, the EPC Cigar Company booth was packed most of the time but I did have a few minutes to chat with Ernie and look forward to adding his cigars sometime this fall. Stay tuned.
I finally took and passed my Tobacconist University final exam and am proud to say that I am now an official Certified Retail Tobacconist!!
Toraño Family Cigars has three new cigars scheduled to be released (2 premium & 1 bundle-type) sometime this fall. One is called Single Region and it's more full bodied and flavorable than I expected. Look for that one within the next 4-8 weeks. The Masters is the second premium release and is the creation of Toraño master roller Felipe Sosa. It's a medium-bodied, well balanced and smooth. Felipe and his new creation will be featured at an MJM in-store rolling event the first week of December. I can't wait!!
Every year I'm on the look-out for a new cigar that is flying below almost everyone's radar but kicks -ss. I think that I might have found two gems at this year's show. However, I'm keeping that under wraps for the time being! Isn't it better to receive a small gift every day than to open all your presents at once? I'm just saying...
I hope to see you in our shop soon.
Until then, may God continue to bless us all.