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April,
2007

TRENDS AND TRENDSETTERS IN TOBACCO RETAILING
Phillip Wynne’s Old Cuban Cigar Factory Stores Revive Lost Tradition of “Buckeye” Storefront Cigar Factories

Cigar maker Philip G. Wynne — founder of Felipe Gregorio, Inc. — has teamed with tobacco retailer Paul Giacalone to open the first two of a series of factory-type cigar stores across the United States. Opening in early April, one is situated on Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) in Miami’s little Havana district, and the other at 173 South Main Street, Middleton, Massachusetts.

The Old Cuban Cigar Factory Stores feature onsite cigar rollers, similar to the Cuban-expatriate owned “buckeye” factory/retailer shops that once were a colorful part of the Calle Ocho scene. Customers can buy cigars fresh off the rolling tables and watch the rollers’ fascinating craft, often for the first time. The stores’ comfortable smoking environment provides an inviting place to relax with a good cigar in plush lounge furniture, with fresh coffee, conversation, and the day’s newspapers.

In addition to the freshly-rolled cigars, The Old Cuban Cigar Factory Stores carry Felipe Gregorio brands plus other exclusive boutique and hard-to-find brands. The selection also offers cigars in unique wrappers and blends found only at the Old Cuban Cigar Factory. Wynne will be launching his new Felipe Gregorio “Origin” series of premium cigars, made with a wide selection of different wrappers to suit all palates: Connecticut (#203), Dominican (#809), Nicaraguan (#505), Mexican San Andreas (#52), Brazil Aripiraca (#55), and Pinar del Rio Habano (#53-82).


Pittsburgh’s Montecristo Club Falls Victim to Smoking Ban

Pittsburgh - Faced with an impending smoking ban in Allegheny County, Penn., the Pittsburgh Pirates have made PNC Park entirely smoke free and retired the Montecristo Club cigar bar that the team implemented just last year.

The Pirates debuted the Montecristo Club at the start of last year’s Major League Baseball season in a naming rights deal with Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Altadis U.S.A., Inc. At the time, a spokeswoman for Altadis said it was the first naming rights agreement the cigar maker had signed with a MLB franchise.

But last September, Allegheny County passed a smoking ban that includes restaurants and bars, but exempts specialty tobacco establishments. Implementation of the ban was delayed by a court action backed by the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. But an injunction by an Allegheny County Common Pleas court is due to expire May 1.

A statewide smoking ban, meanwhile, may not be far off. A bill that would ban smoking throughout Pennsylvania has cleared the state’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee, but has not been voted on by the state legislature.


TNT Cigars Adds Mobile Ordering to its Online Retail Storefront

Pittsburgh - Faced with an impending smoking ban in Allegheny County, Penn., the Pittsburgh Pirates have made PNC Park entirely smoke free and retired the Montecristo Club cigar bar that the team implemented just last year.

The Pirates debuted the Montecristo Club at the start of last year’s Major League Baseball season in a naming rights deal with Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Altadis U.S.A., Inc. At the time, a spokeswoman for Altadis said it was the first naming rights agreement the cigar maker had signed with a MLB franchise.

But last September, Allegheny County passed a smoking ban that includes restaurants and bars, but exempts specialty tobacco establishments. Implementation of the ban was delayed by a court action backed by the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. But an injunction by an Allegheny County Common Pleas court is due to expire May 1.

A statewide smoking ban, meanwhile, may not be far off. A bill that would ban smoking throughout Pennsylvania has cleared the state’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee, but has not been voted on by the state legislature.


Philadelphia “Blunt Ban” is Tossed

Philadelphia - Judge Gary S. Glazer of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County overturned Philadelphia’s “blunt ban” on March 7, writing that the operation of the ordinance was inconsistent with state law which prevents municipalities from criminalizing random legal items. Intended to prevent the sale of tobacco or related items that could be considered drug paraphernalia, the ordinance banned flavored cigars, rolling papers, and any tobacco products within 500 feet of schools.

In overturning the law, Glazer wrote, “Although the ordinance has a laudable anti-drug objective, its operation is inconsistent with state law. The ordinance converts a specific intent offense into a strict liability one, subjecting legitimate businesses selling legal dual-use products to the arbitrary enforcement of the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.”

The law went into effect in January, and established fines between $300 and $1,500 for each violation. The maximum fine would have risen to $1,900 in 2008 and to $2,000 in 2009.

The Cigar Association of America and several cigar companies including Holt’s Cigar Co., Black Cat Cigar Co., Altadis U.S.A., Inc., Swisher International Inc., and John Middleton Inc., sued the city and won an injunction from the law, which prohibited the ordinance’s enforcement until the case was heard in court.


NEW & NOTABLE

  • The Prime Cigar Company, Brookfield, Wisc., held a grand opening celebration in March, serving free beer with cigar purchases, appetizers, and a buy-three-and-get-one-free sale on The Sopranos by CAO cigars. The cigar lounge, which opened in late November, 2006, sells more than 100 cigar frontmarks and offers a free wireless network for laptops and LCD and high-definition plasma screen TVs. The bar is stocked with more than 45 beers from around the world.

  • Ed Guevara and his wife, Carrie, have opened Cumberland Cigar Co. in St. Marys, Ga., a destination shop for locals and tourists alike. The store offers more than 60 brands of cigars, as well as a selection of whole-bean coffee, tea, and other beverages; free wireless Internet; a lounge furnished with a glossy leather couch and flat screen TV; a covered front porch with rocking chairs for outdoor smoking; and cigar lockers for rent. The Guevaras moved to area a year and a half ago after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. A cigar smoker for 20 years, Guevara said the store was a natural fit in Camden County, where no other tobacconists, or dealers of tobacco, currently exist. The shop is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

  • Cordova Cigars, Pensacola, Fla. celebrated its grand opening on March 1 with the help of Ernesto Padilla who was present to discuss his cigar brands. Each guest received a free Padilla Habano Robusto cigar, and all Padilla cigars were discounted during the event.

  • BITS & PIECES

  • The city council of Burbank, Calif. voted to pass the “Secondhand Smoke Control Ordinance” which bans smoking in all public outdoor places. The ordinance, similar to a landmark outdoor smoking ban passed in Calabasas, Calif. last year, is set to take effect in mid-May.

  • Matt and Frank Arcella, who own three Davidoff of Geneva cigar stores in Las Vegas, are planning to launch a store dedicated exclusively to S.T. Dupont products at the new Palazzo Hotel, which is slated to open this Fall.

  • A new smoking ban in Arizona goes into effect on May 1, and to celebrate The Arizona Biltmore Resort is launching a monthly cigar-centered dinner series during non-summer months. The first dinner will be held on the first day of the smoking ban. Morton’s Steakhouse in Phoenix, which has been conducting quarterly cigar lovers’ dinners for more than a decade, will also continue cigar dinners outside, during summer months.

  • The Colorado Senate in March gutted a bill aimed at banning smoking in casinos, voting to allow gamblers to light up at the slots and tables as long as smoking is still allowed in cigar bars and the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport.

  • SMOKESHOP - April, 2007