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August,
2006

TRENDS AND TRENDSETTERS IN SPECIALTY TOBACCO RETAILING
First Franchise Unit for 7 Valleys Custom Blends

CAMP HILL, PA - 7 Valleys Custom Blends, a York, Pa.-based retailer of all-natural bulk tobacco, has opened its first franchise unit. The grand opening of the store in Camp Hill, Penn., a suburb of Harrisburg, was held on August 4.

"After 13 years of serving a loyal and growing customer base in York and the surrounding area we're thrilled to make 7 Valleys Custom Blends products available in a new market," said company founder and president, Mark Tucci,.

7 Valleys Custom Blends is the first bulk tobacco concept to franchise. Mark Tucci thinks that the timing is just right to launch an aggressive expansion program. "Smokers are already paying extravagant amounts for cigarettes," states Tucci. "When smokers see how much they can save...we're confident that many of them will become our customers."

The stores specialize in full range of merchandise for roll-your-own and make-your-own cigarette customers, stocking 49 custom blends of fresh chemical- and additive-free tobacco. Each blend has its own unique flavor derived from different combinations of premium U.S. and imported tobaccos. The stores also stock pipe tobacco, cigars, rolling papers, machines, and other supplies as well as a new line of 7 Valleys Custom Blends coffee. Associates can help shoppers to match coffee blends with their favorite tobacco blends.

Camp Hill franchisee partners Sean Concannon and Richard Agolia were both former customers of the York Store. The opening of the first franchise unit in Camp Hill also marked the introduction of a new store format. Designed in collaboration with F.C. Dadson, the store features contemporary styling and a layout that is intended to be shopper-friendly. The design is the prototype for future 7 Valleys Custom Blends stores. The York store has incorporated new shelves, cabinets and display cases to reflect the new scheme.

Sean Kelly, president of IdeaFarm, a leading franchise marketing and brand development firm, says the company has effectively identified its niche market, developing products and category knowledge that "customers sincerely appreciate."

"This is the type of franchise that allows owners to develop a truly unique bond with their clients," he adds.

A second franchised unit is scheduled to open in Lancaster, Pa. in October. "As we are joined by more franchise partners the awareness of 7 Valleys Custom Blends will build and the benefits of the roll-your-own approach to cigarettes will become more apparent," says Tucci. Franchise information is available at www.customblends.com


BITS & PIECES

  • The Davidoff boutique on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal has closed. David Cigars Corp. of Canada, a tobacco importer and owner of the shop for 25 years, cited a provincial prohibition on the sale of items bearing tobacco company insignia - including all Davidoff accessories and gifts - as a blow to the shop's bottom line, as well as an overzealous expansion project, high rent, and smoking declines.

  • A federal judge struck down Washington state's ban on cigarette giveaways in August, agreeing with R.J. Reynolds that the measure is overruled by federal law. The law stopped tobacco companies from giving out free product samples to adults anywhere in the state, including adults-only venues such as bars, nightclubs, or age-restricted retail shops. The measure had repealed earlier state regulations that allowed limited giveaways of tobacco products to adults.

  • NEW & NOTABLE

  • New York-based cigar maker Velvet Cigar Lounge has re-opened its cigar lounge at 80 East 7th Street in Manhattan's East Village and has also opened a second location at 174 Broadway in Brooklyn next door to the Peter Luger Steakhouse. Both locations feature a premium rare beer selection, over 30 different varieties of port wine, 15 wines by the glass, espresso and hand rolled cigars on premises.

  • Owners and local residents Henry Moses, his nephew Michael Moses, and their wives opened Moses and Moses Tobacconists and General Store in May, a premium cigar, tobacco, and general goods store in the northeastern Connecticut town of Brooklyn near the Rhode Island border.

    Catering to customers who want "the good stuff," according to Henry, but don't want to drive too far to get it, the store stocks 90 varieties of cigars, but showcases in particular the American war-themed Battleground line, some of which are manufactured in-state and feature Connecticut River Valley tobacco.

    As one of only two cigar manufacturers in Connecticut, the shop also produces the hand rolled, Connecticut Valley tobacco-wrapped Israel Putnam cigar, commemorating the town's historical resident who brought the first Cuban cigars to the U.S. in 1762. Half the store is dedicated to vintage housewares, gifts, and natural food products manufactured or found in the region


  • SMOKESHOP - August, 2006