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Thread: Starting a Cigar Shop

  1. #1

    Default Starting a Cigar Shop

    I have been thinking about starting a cigar store. The closest cigar store is roughly 25 minutes away, and it lacks a good selection and customer service. I first thought that the cigar stores were located in this city due to good demographics, but I compared the demographics between my city and and the one with cigar store. The demographics for my city were far more superior, which leads me to believe that if I opened a cigar store here it would be successful. I am thinking about renting a place where the traffic volume over 48 hours averages 22,000 cars, and I plan on buying three commercial humidors since I can't build one in the store.
    Are there any recomendations before I start to make my first move? Sorry I did not tell the city where I am located, but I did not want anybody to get any ideas. However, it is a college town that ranges from 23,000 to 50,000 when school is in session. I would greatly appreciate some tips!!!

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the boards from Louisiana.

    I think you have a couple of holes in your logic. For starters, you are considering that ANY of those 11,000 people passing in front of your shop gives a hoot about cigars, which is an awfully presumptuous assumption to make. You are selling cigars, not alcohol, not food, not gas. It is a luxury amongst luxuries. Case in point: the last town I lived in (I recently moved, within the last 4 months) had a really nice B&M. Leather couches, events, top-notch cigar selection, knowledgeable staff. The town I live in now dwarfs the town I used to live in, yet there is no B&M of the same caliber. I can still find the cigars I like to smoke, but there are no more poker nights at the local B&M, if you know what I mean. The point being, you need to have a community of existing cigar smokers almost to support your product. If there isn't demand already, you are going to be hard-pressed to create one. Especially in a community that maximizes at 50K in population. You can't count on college kids as your primary customer base. They are poor. Unless, of course, you live in Cambridge, Mass., or Stanford, California.

    Secondly, especially depending on where you live, networking and relationships are going to be your biggest benefactors in developing your business. Tell everyone. When people see you, your image and appearance should be synonymous with that cigar shop you want to open. You are also facing some fierce competition from online retailers. Online cigar retailers can carry a larger inventory than you can, provide cheaper prices because they aren't paying rent in a convenient business district, and they buy in bulk. There are several cigar dealers that are members and regular contributors to this board that can attest to this. Most people on this board buy the majority of their cigars online. Not to mention that when customers buy online, they don't pay taxes. Another factor of a B&M cigar stores is, one slip up with the wrong customer, and word of mouth would kill you faster than you ever could on your own.

    Now that your bubble has been completely deflated and you feel like you have no hope, it is obvious that you are at least reasonably passionate about your hobby. What I would suggest is that you maybe get in contact with a fancy bar in town (does your city allow you to smoke indoors? if not, make sure they have a patio), someplace where the owner enjoys cigars as well. I'm guessing if they own a bar or some kind of fancy uppity place like that, they might be trying to attract a more sophisticated clientele. Because we ALL know all cigar smokers are sophisticated, right? If you start there, maybe promoting a cigar tasting event with a few choice ports or scotch's, and maybe setup a small humidor in that shop, you might be able to grow your business that way. Maybe you also include another humidor of your cigars in a liquor store or specialty grocery store in town. But start small. That's my advice.

    And tell us a bit about yourself. Welcome again from Louisiana.


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  3. #3
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    It's difficult to base a store entirely on cigars. The only places I've seen make it are combination shops. Tobacco stores/humidor and liquor stores/humidor combinations. There is the rare cigar only shop in a prime location that makes it. The only one I've seen is next to a popular outlet mall that's big enough to draw people from neighboring states.
    "some people are like slinkies, they're not really good for anything but they can bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs." –Unknown


    "He did for bullshit what Stonehenge did for rocks." -Cecil Adams

  4. #4
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    Been in the business for a looooooong time.......... good luck! My advise - save your money and do something you know. I have seen too many people lose everthing. If their is a spot that doesnt have a cigar store....... their is a good reason for it. It will not work. I am sure you are not the only person who had this idea and will not be the last. Unless you have verrrrrrrrrrrrrry deep pocket - don't do it. Though, I also think opening any business in our current economy is a big mistake....never mind cigars. Remember......the grass is always greener.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by islcigar View Post
    Been in the business for a looooooong time.......... good luck! My advise - save your money and do something you know. I have seen too many people lose everthing. If their is a spot that doesnt have a cigar store....... their is a good reason for it. It will not work. I am sure you are not the only person who had this idea and will not be the last. Unless you have verrrrrrrrrrrrrry deep pocket - don't do it. Though, I also think opening any business in our current economy is a big mistake....never mind cigars. Remember......the grass is always greener.
    I have to agree with islcigar regarding your plan. Very deep pockets are needed. Plus, be ready to work 100+ hours a week.

    I was in the cigar business with four factories and am very happy to have gotten out several years ago. My coffee shop keeps me busy 100+ hours a week...plus I've got a big internet division that adds time to my week.

    Sorry for the bad news, but I'd hate to see anyone get buried in debt getting into the cigar biz.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJerry View Post
    Sorry for the bad news, but I'd hate to see anyone get buried in debt getting into the cigar biz.
    If nothing else this is my advise - take a risk when you can afford to take the loss.

    I'd hate to see anyone get buried in this economy at all. You go down now it might take a while to get back up. When investors went down during the depression they took a leap - from a high building. Now's the time to work hard in something stable. Get you knuckles bloody, get your boots muddy.

    What is it? About 80% of all restraints fail within a year or two? Hate to see that statistic on luxury stores. Within 10 miles from me is a fancy cigar shop with a built in humidor. You can't smoke indoors in Delaware even to taste a cigar in a cigar shop (and maybe that hurts them) but I've only ever seen one employee (the owner works all hours alone). Every time (every time) I walk in he's on the phone and I overhear him complaining about not having money or being able to pay bills. I feel bad for him, so I try to give him as much business I can (every time I've ever walked in I've been the only customer in the store) even though the JR Cigars in DC has a better selection and better prices.

    If you're independently wealthy do what makes you happy. If you need a job get something secure like a government job like dept of trans, or dept of corrections. If you've already got the store and made a payment on it do what you know is best - only you know what that is.

    Again, if nothing else this is my advise - take a risk when you can afford to take the loss.

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