RTDA 2004 Trade Show:
A Very Big Deal

Cautious optimism in the cigar industry in recent years seemed to burst into a full-blown resurgence with near-record attendance at this year's trade show.

Staff Report

With over 1,040 retail shops in attendance at the RTDA's 2004 Annual Convention & International Trade Show in Las Vegas, July 26-29, this year's edition of the industry's biggest event proved to be one of the most active and upbeat shows in many years. This, despite a nominal chilling effect on product sampling thanks to Nevada's decision to enforce collection of a 30% tax on all tobacco samples distributed.

"Attendance was at a virtual all-time high with exhibitors indicating record buying of all products throughout the show," said outgoing RTDA executive director Bill Fader. "Next year's show in New Orleans is again virtually sold out."

Plenty of new merchandise was on display to ensure an exciting upcoming holiday retail season for attending tobacco shops who placed orders on the spot.

Bill Rancic, founder of Cigars Around the World and winner of last season's hit reality TV series "The Apprentice," greeted retailers at the Arturo Fuente booth.

Doug Wood of La Perla Habana poses with the Black Pearl racing team.

The Heavenly Angels spread out to attend tobacco shop events throughout the country all year long, but for the RTDA they all gathered in Vegas to greet retailers at the booth of premium flavored cigar maker Heavenly Cigar Co.

Alex Goldman, a fourth-generation tobacconist and vice president of Mom's Cigars, was the winner of a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted "Macanudo Edition" Harley Davidson Softail Classic motorcycle customized by General Cigar Corp. At the show, retailers who visited General's booth were qualified to win the Harley by blindly selecting from 1,000 keys to "unlock" the bike; the 20 successful finalists then tried their keys to start the bike and determine the winner. The 88cc bike features hard-sided saddlebags transformed into spanish-cedar-lined humidors and will be displayed in the Mom's Cigars stores in Valley Stream and Scarsdale, N.Y. Shown, from left, are Edgar Cullman, Sr., chairman; prize winner Alex Goldman; Edgar Cullman, Jr., president and c.e.o.; and David Danziger, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Bob Winston, owner of the Tinder Box of Metaire, La., was the recipient of Alfred Dunhill's 2004 Retailer of the Year Award and was presented with the Golden Pipe Award at a special ceremony at the Venetian Hotel by Simon Glendenning (at left), general manager of London-based Alfred Dunhill Pipes Ltd., and Arron Sissom (at right), president, Music City Marketing, Inc., the U.S. distributor of Alfred Dunhill pipes based in Nashville, Tenn.

Colibri gave away over 20 prizes of diamond jewelry at the show worth over $15,000, and a single grand prize valued at $10,000 - a 2-karat, three-stone diamond ring won by Gus Merkle, manager of Tinder Box in the Lenox Square Mall, Atlanta, Ga. (in center, at right with Colibri officials). Second prize, a three-stone diamond pendant, was won by Jeri and Ron Michelson of the Briar Patch Smoke Shop, Arden Fair Mall, Sacramento, Calif. Third prize, a diamond bracelet, was won by Hassib El-Zein, Tobacco and Wine, Miami, Fla. Visitors to the Colibri booth were given Colibri 3003 pins to wear; if spotted by Kelly the "Gotcha Girl," retailers instantly won a Daring Diamonds Sterling Silver and Diamond pendants.

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SMOKESHOP - October, 2004