In an open letter to the industry, Famous Smoke Shop President and CEO, Arthur Zaretsky, announced his 80 year old company has made the decision not to attend this year’s Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show. The letter cites reasons different than some of the others we have seen recently. Most notably is that the decision was reached even before the big 4 announcement last week.
Even though Famous Smoke has had a brick and mortar presence since its inception, Zaretsky noted in his letter that he and his company are:
…treated as pariahs by the very same organization we have tirelessly supported. Because according to the PCA, we internet retailers are the enemy. We are the cause of declining sales at B&M’s. Not the fact that a fair share of retailers choose to remain complacent, relying on last century’s technology and the deeper pockets of others to fight their battles for them. No, it’s our fault: catalog and internet-managed companies are destroying the industry, preying on “the little guy.” Oh, if only if we would disappear – then money would rain down like manna.
A major reason cited for pulling out of the trade show was the PCA lobbying for higher taxes on internet sales of Premium Cigars. Zaretsky explains it this way:
“I cannot continue to support the PCA, an organization so far out of touch with the reality of the current market. I am tired of supporting those who seek to damage my business to increase their own. Recently this all came to light when I learned that the PCA spent time and money to increase taxes on cigars. Yes! Under the banner of a “level playing field”, the PCA lobbied to increase taxes, but only on remote sellers like me. So here you have a hypocritical organization, which is out to hurt and/or destroy a part of the industry. Why? We are not your enemy. Your business will not be better if we disappear. Prices will skyrocket and few will be able to afford $12-$20 cigars.”
So here we are with not only large brands making the decision to not participate in the PCA Trade Show but also significant retailers. Some industry insiders have told me there are more to come but I suppose we will have to wait and see as the months roll on. As for Stogie Press, we will attend, cover, and report on the PCA as we have done every year and also we will be attending the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) later this month.
The full letter from Famous Smoke is attached below: