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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I Love Tobacconists

I feel remiss in not having written in a couple of weeks….. but I would like to follow up and say that the Tobacconist University Certified Lapel Pins finally arrived and they ARE Spectacular!!!!
But that is not why I am inspired to write today. I just came from a meeting of our State Retailers association. It is a unique group filled with retailers from all walks of life. Our members are Retail Tobacconists with different specialties and stores that serve very different markets. To put it mildly, it is a diverse group. I’m amazed at the diversity of opinions in our meetings. While we are all essentially in the same profession, you would think we weren’t. It is amazing to see so much disagreement and lack of consensus. But that is par for the course in the tobacco industry: cigarettes pitted against cigars, retail against mail order, etc…. We are severely fractionalized, divided, and constantly on the defensive: fighting legislators, taxation, oppression, and sometimes ourselves. Even with all of the different opinions floating around in that room, and different agendas, there are some underlying commonalities, which I admire and respect greatly.

I didn’t start writing this to complain about my fellow Tobacconists. In fact, I leave these regular meetings a little frustrated at the state of our State and Nation, but I also leave rejuvenated. I’m not rejuvenated because we came to any sound conclusions or had any great ideas. I’m invigorated because I’m reminded of why I choose to stay in this industry. Stay and fight for what I believe in; both in terms of freedoms and values. Above all, most Tobacconists I meet are GREAT people. Sometimes I think they are the only people left who actually care about the products they sell. We are Customers, first and foremost. And we are committed to what we love, no matter the challenges, because our passion is undeniable.
I can’t think of any other profession facing so many obstacles. Yet I have never seen so many fine people so committed to fighting the good fight and doing the right thing. Sure I’m biased, but that doesn’t change the fact that I Love Tobacconists… and you should too. Don’t let this part of our culture, this venerable profession, die. Support your local Retail Tobacconist, and tell your friends to do so as well. I would argue that nobody works harder to satisfy their customers, than Retail Tobacconists…. and I promise you, they aren’t doing it just for the money.

Jorge Armenteros, CMT

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