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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cigar Rolling Table Plans

Every retail Tobacconist should have at least one: Cigar Rolling Tables are perfect for year- round merchandising as well as cigar rolling events. Having an authentic table, as opposed to a plastic or temporary table, is important to the roller, customers, and Tobacconists. In addition, Cigar Rolling Tables are great for special merchandising, sale items, or to be used as desks for customers, and they contribute to the authentic environment in your store.
Cigar Rolling Tables are distinguished by a partial top shelf (approx: 40″ high) over the standard table top (approx: 30″ high). The partial top shelf creates extra space on top for placing finished cigars, while the space underneath hides the goma, guillotina, water, leaves, and other incidentals. The following materials list and plans outline the materials and steps necessary to create your own Cigar Rolling Table. Whether you apply expert craftsmanship or rudimentary skills to this project, it will be worth the effort.

A Cigar Rolling Table can be made of almost any type of wood, including oak, pine, cherry, or walnut. After you have prepared your materials, you can follow these steps to assemble your Cigar Rolling Table.

*TU is not specifying what construction or carpentry techniques to use. Go with whatever skill set you have. If it’s rustic and sloppy, it won’t matter! It will just look more authentic! I built my first cigar rolling table in 1995 with plywood, drywall screws, and a little bit of dark mahogany stain: we still use it to this day! And the horrible craftsmanship only adds character.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grow The Pie

Grow The Pie. That’s the point of TU. Its the purpose of education. It’s the reason for Certification. Grow the pie, Grow the pie, Grow the pie.
Its worth repeating because the retail Tobacconist pie has been shrinking for decades. Furthermore, perpetually increasing taxes, smoking bans, mail order, and anti-smoking legislation threaten our industry more than ever. Yet, if you converted just 10% of cigarette smokers to cigars, you would practically double the size of the cigar industry (see Smoking Stats for proof). These are profound facts!

To paraphrase the Outlaw Tobacconist Genius:

‘If you focus on growing the pie, your slice automatically gets bigger.’
While the luxury tobacco industry is filled with brilliant business men and women, it has been forced into self-preservation mode for decades. Companies are terrified of legislation and taxes; they hyper-focus on economies of scale, internal efficiencies, and maximizing ROI, all while margins decline, products get commoditized, and taxes increase: it’s a brutal scenario.
Not surprisingly, until Tobacconist University, we were practically the only industry without formalized education and certification standards for professionals. But the challenges are far from over for us. Now, Tobacconists, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers of luxury tobacco must get involved and work together to project our credibility and preserve our future.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Bad Customer

While it sounds like an oxymoron, it is true; there are Bad Customers.
Some customers are disruptive to others, some steal, some are vulgar, others talk loudly, and some cause drama or complain about trivial matters. In my stores we have a written sales policy by the register and part of it says “… if you are rude, pompous, or annoying, please leave and never come back”. And occasionally we must reference this item and kick someone out. I always wanted my stores to be inviting so I decided long ago that some customers are not worth the trouble. Getting rid of Bad Customers lets us focus on the customers who deserve our attention.
I remember during my first month in business I asked my father ‘isn’t the customer always right?’ and he said ‘of course’ …. followed by a long pause…. and then he said “unless you are willing to lose that customer“. Well, I learned early on, some customers are worth losing. But, knowing this does not make it any easier to lose a customer. Customers are precious – and not easily replaced. Above all, our customers make a choice to spend their money with us and that is an honor, so losing one is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
A week ago we ‘un-customered’ someone and it has been popping into my head everyday since then. This customer, we will call “Slava” is a perennial nuisance. Years ago we asked him to stop yelling at his wife in the store and ‘take it outside’. He didn’t come in for months after that: he actually thought we were being rude. Now that I look back, I wish he had never come back… but saying goodbye to a customer is like breaking up – very difficult. Last week Slava pulled a cigar out of the cellophane and stuck it into his nostril (see picture), leaving a glossy sheen of mucous. He then paid for it, got his change, and went back into into the humidor to exchange the cigar he stuck up his nose. Well, of course this is disgusting and unsanitary so we told him he would not be able to exchange the cigar. Being the narcissistic imbecile that he is, he got angry, insulted us, and stomped out of the store. Good riddance Slava! Now you can go torture some other poor retailer for $2.69.
Ultimately, I am confident we did the right thing, but that doesn’t stop it from hurting. Again, because every customer is precious.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Figurado Geometry

Figurados come in a variety of lengths and shapes. Some taper at the Head, some taper at the Foot, and others taper at both ends. Furthermore, the taper, Ring Gauge (rg), and shape of the cigar can also vary. This is why Figurados can be some of the most difficult cigars to roll. And, in the end, each Figurado Vitola will smoke, feel, and taste differently, depending on its construction, composition, and geometry.
In particular, Figurados with a tapered Foot, such as Perfectos and Salomones, tend to have the most flavor changes – as their Ring Gauge (rg) expands. In general, the smaller rg towards the Foot pronounces the Wrapper and Binder flavors more; while the Filler flavors begin to express themselves as the cigar is smoked and the rg expands. These Figurados ‘start slow’ but enable the smoker to isolate the Wrapper and Binder flavors towards the beginning.

Watch the video below to see how extraordinary Figurados get rolled.