How To Curate A Humidor Selection

Brandon Hayes
Almost every day, we receive phone calls into the lounge asking us to carry new brands. We do our best to curate a selection of cigars that we feel represents the best the industry has to offer. While we have quite a large humidor, space is still limited, and we cannot carry every brand. As you may have noticed, we don't often bring new brands into the humidor. In 2022, we ended up bringing a total of two brands into the humidor (only one of which we still sell - Plasencia). This year, we have brought the same number of brands (La Aurora and El Séptimo), and it doesn't appear we will be adding any more for the remainder of the year. Here is what our process looks like for adding new brands to the humidor!
The addition of new brands is done almost exclusively around the two trade shows of the year (TPE and PCA). Brandon and I sit down and discuss brands that customers have been asking for and samples that we have smoked and enjoyed. We then visit their booth, discuss with the reps what their processes look like. Some brands have minimal order requirements to open accounts with them, which can be a dollar amount or product count. Almost all have a minimal spend to get access to limited products, and some brands even have territories that limit where new retailers can open. Navigating this is much simpler than it comes across, but all aspects are considerations when adding new brands.
We are always looking for products that offer a unique experience or value proposition for our customers. Our selective thought process behind this roots in maintaining the quality of the humidor and our relationship with our customers. This is not just from a product quality standpoint, but also from a product availability standpoint.
From a product quality aspect, we are looking for consistent construction without any pests (such as mold or tobacco beetles). We are committed to developing long-term relationships with our customers, and it only takes one bad experience to give a customer a reason to go to another cigar shop. Also, we simply have too much product on hand to risk a tobacco beetle outbreak.
On a product availability aspect - if a customer comes in to buy a cigar and we do not have it, it is a lost sale, and a customer might go somewhere else to buy that cigar. While all brands offer some form of limited edition releases, we rely on regular production being readily available. If you look around our humidor, you will notice that brands are "blocked" together. This forms a sort of billboard for the brand that draws customers' attention. If a brand does not have enough product to create this billboard effect, a lot of the time, it's not worth bringing in one or two blends. These orphan boxes can simply be passed over, which can result in bad sales and wasted shelf space.
The final "x" factor in this decision-making process is the rep themselves. Are they a dynamic personality that will move the needle and create buzz in the lounge? Are they passionate and knowledgeable about the brand? Will they be there to support us if issues or questions arise? While this is certainly not the largest factor in the decision-making process, this has both prevented and caused the addition of brands to our humidor.
At the end of the day, we are a retail location and sales are the end all be all factor. It is our job to curate the selection and give recommendations to our customers. If brands sell after this rigorous process they stay, if cigars don't sell they go. It is Capitalism at its finest, customers vote with dollars!
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