Ahhhh one of the most debated topics in the online cigar community, Should I order cigars online from big name websites or should I shop local and support my local Brick and Mortar shop? To answer this question we need to look at the benefits of both so that we can compare the reasons many people have for WHY they decide to purchase their cigars in the fashion that they choose.
CBID, CI and other online retailers
People like a bang for their Buck! So many cigar smokers use websites such as CigarBid , Cigars International, JR cigars, etc.. where they can purchase in bulk at a greatly discounted price and delivered right to their door. Who wouldn’t want such great service without having to leave your house? Many consumers who use these services often live in very remote parts of the country where their nearest Brick and Mortar establishment is a couple hours away or more.
Financially it makes sense for these consumers to purchase their cigars this way because it isn’t practical for them to hop in the car and visit a cigar shop. Many would love to, but because of their limitations it just isn’t possible as an everyday occurrence. I have seen many online discussions of people criticizing others for choosing to shop online, there is nothing wrong with shopping online. While some consumers have no choice, other consumers choose to shop online because of the higher prices at a brick and mortar cigar shop. Either way every consumer has a say on where their hard earned money is spent.
I don’t think either camp is wrong for their choice, although I do believe we should listen to reasons and not criticize each other for those reasons. A 2014 Government study found there were at least 17.4 million cigar smokers in the United States alone (7.3% of US Adults). There is enough money for any retailer willing to supply the products that every individual wants to buy.
Brick and Mortar shop opinions on online stores
I have spoken with many owners of Brick and Mortar cigar shops over the years and their opinion on large websites like CBID and Cigars International are generally not very positive. Brick and Mortars cannot keep up with the low prices found on these sites. With so many brands “whoring out” cigars to these sites, for prices well below MSRP, I can certainly see why a Brick and Mortar shop would be upset with this business model.
Imagine you are a retailer and a customer walks in and looks at your inventory and sees a certain cigar that they can buy online for $3-5 but In the shop the cigar is anywhere from $9-10. That customer would be less prone to purchase that cigar if they can go online and buy it cheaper. Brick and Mortar shops have overhead, they stock a certain number of faces of each cigar, they have to pay the rent on the building they’re in if they don’t own it, and they have to pay the light bill and pay employees etc… they simply cannot offer the same pricing as these large online retailers who buy in larger quantities and sell lower than MSRP.
What many consumers don’t realize is that to produce a cigar it costs in most cases, normally no more than $4 when it’s all said and done. Then the cigar is imported to the United States and the excise tax and use fees are added to the price of the cigar and the retailer is then sold the cigar at the wholesale price. The manufacturer normally has a suggested retail price and then local taxes and other applicable fees are added which vary by state. The cigar is then priced to put on the shelves. There is a huge markup which is necessary if the retailer wants to make any money.
I don’t blame any brick and mortar retailer for feeling the way that they do. Consequently there is little that they can do about this. I know of a few shops that choose not to stock any brand that is whored out online and doing this works out great for their business and they have happy customers.
The Benefits of supporting your local Brick and Mortar store
Many people know that I am pro Brick and Mortar. I feel that they are the heart beat of the cigar industry and well trained tobacconists continue to add value to the industry as a whole. Like anything there are definitely major benefits to supporting your local cigar shop.
The first benefit – local cigar shops give you a place to get out of the house and Socialize! It can be depressing staying at home all the time. Sometimes you just need to get out. Supporting your local cigar shop helps keep them in business, buy some cigars and buy a drink if they sell alcohol or even buy a coffee and mingle with other cigar lovers and meet some people. Quit being a hermit!
The second benefit – personalized service! When you go to your local shop and get to know them, they will eventually learn what you like to smoke and can help you with finding a new favorite cigar. The majority of cigar shops I have frequented have very friendly people working there and actually enjoy offering you a great experience! Experience is key!
The final benefit – Networking! People from all walks of life hang out at cigar shops and sometimes it pays to talk. You never know you might find; a new worker for your business or someone to do work on your house. Cigars bring people together!
Cigar shops not only offer these benefits, but supporting them also ensures that you will have a place to smoke on a hot or a cold day. Keep their doors open in these tough times.
Brick and Mortars that ship Cigars to consumers
Now that we have explored people’s reasons for buying cigars online primarily, and we have also seen what Brick and Mortar retailers think about these online websites and how it affects their businesses, I want to give a major shout out to Brick and Mortar Shops that offer excellent customer service and have an excellent reputation in the industry. These shops sometimes offer discounts to reward loyalty and are often linked up in Cigar groups who will certainly vouch for their service. Since there are so many out there I decided to compile a short list of top Brick and Mortars (In my opinion) that ship Cigars. The order is not an indication of any significance, I just wanted to highlight some of these shops so you can transition from buying from the big guys and support family owned businesses that specialize in all kinds of cigars but mostly boutique selections. After all Stogie Press specializes in giving a voice to the little guy.
- Sticks Cigars – Rahway, NJ
- Underground Cigar Shop – Ft. Worth, TX
- Bnb Cigars – Philadelphia, PA
- Fine Ash Cigars – Glendale, AZ
- Cigar Hustler – Deltona, FL
- Smoke Inn – Various Locations in FL and also Southern Pines, NC
- Corona Cigars – Orlando, FL
There are so many other brick and mortar shops that ship cigars but that would eventually bore you! I chose the shops above because they have websites that are user friendly and also because I have seen first hand their reputation in the industry. If anyone wasn’t mentioned it wasn’t intentional or even on purpose. I simply felt like they are solid shops that you will enjoy buying cigars from and benefit greatly from. They all maintain their cigars with excellence which is often an issue buying from a big website.
No matter how you feel about this issue, everyone has an opinion. I’m not setting out to change your opinion I am simply hashing out the issues from both sides and offering alternatives to help out our Brick and Mortar Shops because they are the heartbeat of the Cigar industry. I know there are other shops who ship but do not have a website, that’s the only reason that they weren’t mentioned.
So there you have it, another legendary article from the mind of “Shirtless Mike”. Thank you all for always supporting me and Stogie Press. After all without Boston Jimmie I would just be some crazy shirtless guy who people wouldn’t take seriously.