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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Little Inventory

Inventory is everything to a retail Tobacconist. As we wrap up the fiscal year and analyze our inventory, it is hard to imagine that something so important, precious, and vital can be articulated on a few sheets of paper. The final printout for the year is 61 pages of SKUs, descriptions, costs, and more numbers. There are some oddball figures like 23,000 matches, 740 logo guillotine cutters, 111 pipe filters, 201 pipe screens, -927 waters, and probably $20,000 (retail value) worth of stolen products – this is something the public rarely realizes, but shoplifting is a brutal reality inside walk-in humidors; plus damaged cigars! I smoke so many damaged cigars I think I could play the flute professionally since my finger muscles are so well developed…. but I digress…..
What strikes me every time I do inventory is just how amazing the breadth and depth of our inventory is. In my little 680 sq/ft store the (Certified) Tobacconists have to be familiar with 100+ pipe tobaccos, 300+ cigars, 22 brands of rolling papers, dozens of pipes, humidifiers, humidors…. its even too daunting to summarize; but somehow we do it. Of course, we try to have specialists for every department, but it is still an overwhelming amount of knowledge to retain.
Currently, TU is working with companies who realize the unique challenges Tobacconists face, and together we are researching and developing new ways to help Tobacconists stay educated about their products. While TU teaches consumers and Tobacconists directly through the University, we are also trying to influence the way the industry teaches Tobacconists and customers. Getting manufacturers and distributors proactively involved will dramatically improve the amount of knowledge Tobacconists impart on our customers and society, thereby improving customer service and satisfaction. Just imagine, if it’s hard for Tobacconists….. what are our customers thinking? Well, …. don’t worry, we are on it…. but if you have any suggestions, please let us know!

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