One of the most exciting events in the cigar industry is fast approaching - the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Tradeshow. This is the flagship event for the cigar industry and gives retailers a chance to explore new brands. This means that over the next few weeks I’ll be doing analysis on both what has sold well over the last year and what needs to go! In the meantime, lets dig into a little bit of the history of PCA and what it means to the industry.
Founded back in the 1933, tobacconists and cigar manufacturers came together to help establish a unified voice for the industry. Originally this was labeled the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America. Later, the expansion into international markets led to a name change to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. Then again the name was changed in 2019 to the Premium Cigar Association. Every year since its inception (except 2020) they have hosted an annual tradeshow that has brought the industry together.
While most cigar aficionados will recognize the Cigar Rights Association (CRA), the Premium Cigar Association is not nearly as recognizable to the end user. This is because much of the work of the PCA is geared towards assisting those in the cigar industry. Unlike the CRA, the PCA does not sell cigars to raise funds- association members pay dues and the trade show works as the primary revenue driver for the organization. This trade show allows for retailers and manufactures to connect directly in person. Manufactures oftentimes use this event to release new blends and connect with the new retail customers. Strategic retailers use this as a time for strategic buying and to evaluate both new and existing brands sold in their humidor. Recently as a special bonus for those association members that choose to attend the tradeshow, cigar manufacturers have been releasing PCA exclusive releases (such as the Padron No.95 & No.96) & Eiroa PCA Exclusive. Usually this involves a unique size of an existing blend, but sometimes utilizes a completely unique bend (like the Eiroa PCA exclusive).
While a majority of what the PCA does is centered around the tradeshow, the association works year round to provide benefit to its members. They work with a number of lobbyists to ensure industry advocacy, offer webinars as well as continuing education newsletters to keep members up to date with the latest happenings in the industry. The PCA states “The PCA is dedicated to the current and future success of brick and mortar premium tobacconists. Founded in 1933 as the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, the PCA is the largest, most active, and longest-running trade association representing and assisting premium tobacco retailers, manufacturers, and partners in the industry. We offer premier services in education, advocacy, and business development, helping protect our members’ businesses from unfair regulations while simultaneously helping them grow and succeed”. One of the most recent examples of this advocacy would be the formation of the PCA Diplomatic Cigar Corps, a group of diplomatic ambassadors who will work to further promotion international relations and enhance communications between countries involved in the cigar industry.
It is also important to note that a majority of the work that the PCA does is done on a volunteer basis. Those involved with working with the PCA spend long hours working for the greater good of the cigar industry. These positions are filled by nominations by members of the association which are then voted on by the association of the whole and include representation from cigar manufacturers, cigar retailers, government elected officials and other suppliers to the industry.
While the tradeshow takes place in Mid-July, I’ll be updating you with what manufactures and cigars I am most looking forward to trying and connecting with beforehand. Until then, feel free to check out last years Post-PCA Humidor Update or My Thoughts on PCA 2021!
- Nate Simonds