Archive for the ‘suckit’ Category

Cigar Shop 101 – How to make it fail

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

You may be asking yourself what prompted this post. Before you continue, keep in mind I’m just some asshole on the web with a cigar review website. Back to the point…  In short, I was inspired by a nearby cigar store. This place was once a successful and quaint little shop. The stock was limited, but fairly consistent. The lounge was small but inviting with a knowledgeable staff. On the business end, it wasn’t raking in cash, but it certainly wasn’t losing money. In fact, it once financially carried the adjacent business in the same building. All went well for years, until…


After one shop manager grew tired of lacking control, he left and opened up his own shop. The owner of the building and adjacent business (who is also an accountant) decided he would tighten the purse strings even more for the remaining manager. Stock began to dwindle to embarrassingly low levels. There was mostly low to mid-level brands and bundle grade cigars. Even this limited inventory started to become scarce. The humidor went through cycles of having almost enough cigars to dwindling down to almost nothing. Customers were constantly turned away because the cigar they had a few weeks ago ran out and was never restocked. Customers grew tired of this cycle and simply went down the street to a better place.


The website wasn’t accurate, offering many brands that had not been re-stocked in months. While all this happened, the shop manager had his hands tied. He had no control over the budget, hence little control over stock. This cycle went on for months. All the while the owner wondered why the shop was losing money and had virtually no customers. In short, customers grew tired of constant disappointment whenever they walked in to the humidor. Having a good staff and manager doesn’t do any good when they have no control.


To remedy the situation, the staff has been cut and "Changed."  The manager is all that remains to man the shop during daylight hours. At night it will be manned by people from the adjacent business who have no interest or knowledge in cigars. The lounge will now be unavailable at night and on weekends. Basically the cigar shop has finally made the complete transition to an afterthought. The initial problems are still not being addressed or even acknowledged. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Unfortunately this once nice place is circling the drain, and it’s demise is inevitable. At this point, turning things around would take over a year. Even then, the public would probably be wary due to it’s shaky past.

On the other hand…

If you want to see how to succeed in the cigar business, you need look no further then Ed. He has this business down pat, and knows that if you want to make money, you have to invest upfront. It took years for him to earn the customer base he has. He slaved and sacrificed with little return at first. A good cigar shop involves planning, sacrifice, focus, persistence, investment and risk. If you aren’t willing, then don’t bother.


The point of this rambling is simple… I hate to see a nice place fail, and since I have a website, I wrote about it. I didn’t name anyone or the shop in question because I’m a nice guy. I suspect the owners are good people, they just don’t have their heart in the cigar business. I think they just lack the commitment to see it through. They should either commit or shut the doors. Their passion lies in the adjacent business.

A cigar shop needs stock at all times. People need to rely on you having their favorite cigar at all times. They want a staff who can help when they can’t decide what they want. Maybe they just want to stop by and shoot the shit. They may be new to cigars, and need a "Mentor" to help them discover what cigar agrees with their palate.  This process takes time, and lots of it. In the end it boils down to simple business philosophy. When you start letting accountants run every aspect of a cigar shop, you will fail. I have proof…

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