One of the most frequently asked questions we hear at the store is, “What’s new?” This strong interest from customers in “what’s new” is (in part) what inspires established cigar manufacturers to create new blends and limited editions, adding to the depth of their lines. But what about new companies? How do they find a place on our shelves?
It’s hard to imagine that all of our best selling cigars today were once unknown quantities— Davidoff, Padron, Ashton, Fuente, Rocky Patel, and Paul Garmirian were at one point new to the market, and Georgetown Tobacco helped give all of these beloved brands their start. At this year’s Premium Cigar Association trade show, there were more than 80 relatively new, boutique brands. Maybe some of these will grow to become the next Padron or Fuente, but today, they’re fighting for a place in our store so that you, the consumer, can determine their fate.
Our decision making process is not an exact science, but there is a lot of thought and consideration that goes into it. Read on as we pull back the curtain…
- Character– As much as we value our relationships with our customers, we value the people behind the cigars we carry. When we introduce you to a new cigar, it’s not just about the blend and where it’s made… It’s about who is making this cigar, their story and why we think they are worthy of your consideration. Believe it or not, there are a few jerks out there in the cigar industry. We value doing business with people who have honor and integrity. The good news is there are a number of amazing people creating great cigars. The bad news is there are a number of amazing people creating great cigars…
- Character– This time, I’m referring to the cigars themselves. We smoke them, take notes on them, and compare those notes. Even if a cigar is not to our own personal palate, we can appreciate when something is well made. But being well made in today’s market isn’t enough. When a cigar catches us with something special, something that differentiates it from others we already carry, that’s when we’re onto something that could be great.
- Character– Does this well-made cigar, created by well-intentioned people, blend well with the character of Georgetown Tobacco? It might be the brand name, or the way the box is designed, but some attributes of the new cigar companies we meet lend themselves to fitting in what what we offer here in Washington, D.C. and our own brand and reputation built over 59 years. Great marketing alone will not create a great cigar brand, but when combined with factors #1 and #2, it doesn’t hurt.
Ultimately, you will be the ones to decide if a brand is successful in our store or not. We do our best to curate a diverse selection in tastes, shapes and price points. Sometimes we think we’ve hit the trifecta only to see a particular brand languish on our shelves. That doesn’t mean we’ve failed, or the cigars have failed, or that our customers are wrong. Sometimes things just don’t work. The beauty of our industry is there is plenty of choice.
There are many brands worthy of consideration, and we have to prioritize them given space. We often utilize trays instead of the beautiful cigar boxes themselves just so we can offer a bigger selection than our square footage would otherwise allow. Just because there is something we don’t carry today doesn’t mean we may not offer it in the future.
“What’s new?” Over the coming weeks and months, you’ll start to see our new selections hitting our shelves. We are excited about them, and look forward to introducing you what may become your new favorite cigar!