The opening day of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers IPCPR trade show has come and gone and I’ve had a few minutes to collect my thoughts about my initial impressions. For a first timer, the trade show floor can be a little overwhelming at times, but it really has been an experience to see the cigar industry, as a whole, working together under one roof to make sure that they’re delivering a premium luxury product to their retailers and, ultimately, into the consumer’s hands. All of the retailers noted that the attendance at this year’s event far surpassed the attendance from last year’s show in New Orleans.
IPCPR Trade Show
The IPCPR trade show opened this morning with an Opening breakfast and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, immediately followed by a keynote speech from Jon Taffer, who you may know from Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. Jon was a charismatic speaker and a lifelong cigar smoker, so his talk set the mood for the rest of the day.
Since the trade show caters to facilitating the manufacturer/retailer relationship, he spoke largely to the retailers about not selling themselves short by considering themselves to merely be in the cigar industry. Our affordable luxury product is just that, a luxury industry, even a lifestyle industry. By managing the reactions that are created every day in their stores, an everyday cigar store can increase its sales volume by 20%.
Approached from that perspective, retailers can create new methods to engage their existing customers, attract new customers (and tell the difference between the two) and develop better metrics to track their revenue growth on a continual basis.
But back to my observations and experiences. I arrived in Las Vegas on Friday, so I’ve had a couple of days to adjust to the time change and the heat. For the last three days, I’ve been averaging 9 to 10 miles on my feet. Even in comfortable shoes, the extra mileage is starting to wear me out.
Early access was granted to IPCPR trade show PAC members at 9:30 AM, with general access beginning at 10:30 am. Between the keynote speech and the trade show opening to mere mortals, I had some time to get off of my feet and recharge. By the time security began letting us in, the crowd slowly surged through the gates and on to the trade show floor.
Even though we’re all under one roof, the IPCPR trade show floor is massive. Each cigar line represented has its own booth space and each is uniquely impressive in its own right. After spending some time going from flower to flower, the Perdomo Cigars space probably impressed me the most.
Perdomo Booth IPCPR trade show 2016
Their booth had their offerings laid out in individual showcases, forming walls around their space, a large, rotating Perdomo Cigars sign and a Pearl drum set that would make Neil Peart envious. Nick and Janine spent time engaging with their retail customers and Nick played the drums for a bit.
Every year, manufactures compete for retail store space by releasing new cigars at and around IPCPR. This year is no exception. There are some fantastic cigars that have either just been released or are about to be released and should soon be available for purchase at your local brick and mortar cigar shop.
Being that taste is always subjective, I’m probably going to leave out a cigar that just might be your favorite, but some of the blends that immediately got my attention at IPCPR trade show 2016 include:
- Drew Estate Flying Pigs are coming back and expanding. We’ll have the Liga Privada T52 and No. 9. But the popular vitola will also be available in Undercrown offerings as well.
- La Palina El Año 1896. In 2014, Padron released the 50th Anniversary, “The Hammer” at the IPCPR trade show. It’s a top notch smoke and has had an exclusive wrapper, until now. La Palina now also has rights to the wrapper leaf grown in the same field and has produced what looks to be a tremendous stick at a budget price point. With a suggested retail price in the $10-12 range, this smoke could be a huge hit for the boutique brand. I haven’t had an opportunity to sample one, but they’ve done a great job with the packaging and branding and I’m excited to get the chance to try it soon. As a heads up, there is some buzz that Davidoff also has rights to the same field and may soon release a new stick as well.
- Nat Sherman Habano is a new blend being released. This pick should come as no shock given how big of a fan of the Timeless series I’ve become. They’ve also added 6×60 Gordo sizes to their Metropolitan Selection lines.
- I had the opportunity to try Drew Estate’s MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang. It has a Candela wrapper, with a second Maduro wrapper towards the cap end of the cigar. Drew Estate hasn’t released any blend details except to say it’s the first blend to contain Kentucky Fire Cured tobacco and a Candela wrapper. It was a perfectly balanced smoke and fit well in the middle of my day.
- AVO is releasing a new blend to their Syncro line, called the AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata. Blended with Nicaraguan filler, a Mexican binder and an Ecuadoran wrapper, it promises some more intensity than its mellower sibling from last year’s show.
I was surprised to see the sheer volume of tobacco pipes available at the IPCPR trade show 2016. Pipe makers from all over the globe represented with offerings starting as simple as corn cob pipes and going up in price to well over $1,000. I also didn’t anticipate seeing hookahs in use, but a few booths did show up with hookahs, offering samples.
Stay tuned at TheCigarCafe.com for more IPCPR trade show 2016 updates. And for a more realtime look, follow Harris and I on Twitter at @cigar411 and @MagicCityBurn