Cigar Civil War; Online vs Brick & Mortar

Cigar manufacturers and online retailers have taken full advantage of online consumerism. If you get on the Google and search “Cigars”, the first 3/4 of your page will list websites that allow you to effortless shop for your favorite stogies without even having to put on pants. If you’re reading this and you’re not wearing pants, please put some on before continuing.

Since online cigar buying began, there has been a debate over whether they should be purchased on the web or if those that enjoy them should solely support brick and mortar (B&M) retailers. While there is no rule to how and where aficionados should spend their hard earned money, the issue creates a divide in the cigar community. As petty as it sounds, I’ve actually heard/seen/read the debates. We live in a society where if we choose to do or believe something different than the next person then we’re inherently evil or stupid in their eyes…and we HAVE to voice it disrespectfully (Facebook thugs!) because we like to be heard. But that’s a whole different conversation!

There are benefits and drawbacks for both, depending on the consumer. There are also some things every Bro or Sis of the Leaf should consider when dealing with differences of opinion with our Siblings (see what I did there?) regarding the way they decide to stock their humidor.

credit-card-online-shopping-370x229Consideration #1: It’s none of your business, but if you MUST know…
Proper etiquette can be the difference between an Online Buyers vs. B&M Buyers civil war or everyone herfing in perfect peace and harmony. Similar to the “matters of personal preference” we boast about when it comes to how we cut, light and smoke, so to does this apply to our purchases. The fact of the matter is, where one buys their stuff is none of anyone else’s business, but if one must concern themself, did they have the forethought before speaking on it to consider that the person may not live within reasonable driving distance of a B&M? Did they factor in that they may work during times that B&Ms are open, leaving them the option to only shop via laptop? Maybe they are newer to the game and need a convenient, cost efficient way to try several kinds of cigars, without having to spend a crazy amount of time researching or speaking to people that may or may not help them.

IMG_1359Consideration #2: Sitting in a cigar shop all day does not an expert make
…it actually may make you unemployed. Oftentimes devout B&M buyers look down upon those that choose to trust some dude on the other end of a modem for their sticks. While being a shop regular has its privileges, it also gives a false sense of entitlement and superiority over others that say they know/enjoy cigars. When did we get so (in a kiddy voice) “I know more than you” about cigars? Didn’t we leave that stuff alone in high school with senior superlatives? Well one thing we should have picked up during our sophomore/junior year was that we can not learn through osmosis. Buying from a shop doesn’t make you smarter, studying makes you smarter…and the online buyer just may have more time to research that cigar because they weren’t spending their time driving.

Consideration #3: If You Buy Them Online, Smoke Them Online
Ultimately, it’s not the consumers problem to worry about a B&M’s profits and losses. They don’t have to worry about how the B&M employees will get paid or how much it costs to keep the lights, complementary Wi-Fi, HD cable, running water or HVAC on. Naw, they shouldn’t worry about that, right? Wrong. If you’ve ever been met with resistance for bringing cigars into a lounge where they don’t sell that cigar you got online, it’s kinda justified. That’s one more cigar that they aren’t selling, one more hit their profits will take and one more purchase they have to make up for. So, if you are going to bring your online purchases into an establishment that sells cigars, please patronize them in some way…buy some of theirs, purchase some accessories, get a drink or two or three if they sell them. B&M employees are a part of the same FOTL (Family of the Leaf) as our buddies are, so let’s treat them as such.

IMG_2638Consideration #4: Let People Try Their Cigars On
I just can’t shop for clothes online. I can visit one store and try on a Large shirt, go to the next and require a Medium. One designer’s Medium may be another’s XL, so being present and being able to look directly at my potential purchase is critical to my experience. Pictures online may be misleading. The colors may be off. I may be getting knock-offs or second run merchandise…it can be a crapshoot. There is technology for everything, but for some folks there is nothing like touching a cigar box, inspecting the contents and personally selecting their object of enjoyment for the next hour and a half.

Cigar snobbery runs rampant in the cigar community already, so why add to it by challenging and questioning people’s methods for obtaining their collection? At the end of the day, it’s about us being able to fellowship over the leaf…not picking sides as if the leafs are red and blue. So because they’re brown (and all shades of brown) let us all, Online Buyers and B&M Buyers, Connecticut lovers and Maduro lovers, Democrats and Republicans, unite so that we can light up in peace, share our experiences without judgment, tell lies, watch football, enjoy strong alcoholic beverages together…and do it all again tomorrow.

11 thoughts on “Cigar Civil War; Online vs Brick & Mortar

  1. This is going to be an ongoing feud for the next several years. Especially if the Cuban embargo is lifted! I see guys trading online all the time. The B&M shops are going to have to come up with a marketing strategy to battle the prices. Ordering direct cuts those stae and federal taxes that we are assesed. I think to keep the B&M shops viable, they are have to come up with a way to make the tax “hidden” in the price of the cigars. The impression that there is a flat fee , may keep the shops going until the prices can be negotiated down by at least 20%. That would cover the hidden taxes and the shops can still make money.


    • Thank you Jerry for reading our post! I think that all retailers will need to get creative as the cigar climate changes. Thank you again for your continued support!


  2. The biggest reason , aside from the savings of course, is that where I live the nearest cigar shop is at least 70 miles away. Although when I get close to one I always stop and buy a few sticks, usually ones I don’t order online but I like the option of ordering online.


    • Makes perfect sense Les. Once you spent all of that money on gas, you wouldn’t have any left for cigars! Thank you for reading our post. We appreciate your support!


  3. Since I don’t live close to a good brick and mortar cigar store I have to rely with online purchases. However when I am in a city with cigar stores I always make it a point to stop drop in and make several purchases because there are some things you just can’t get online. Mainly that personal service and recommendation from those folks that run the store, that’s priceless!


    • Thank you Keith for visiting. You my friend have balance, convenience of online and the personal touch of a B&M. And yes, sometimes ya just want to talk to someone instead of relying on a online review


  4. This is actually an old wore out subject that need never create division again. Most of the people I herf with, online in twitter, are well versed in ettiquette for B&M and Online sales. As a matter of fact some shops will happily sell to an online lead from word of mouth their retail only cigars to a valid credit card over the phone! I’ve even purchased some great deals on closeouts, etc. All it takes is a pile of flat rate boxes and some staff that otherwise may be doing nothing during shop hours.


  5. I typed this long reply… Poof wordpress ate it.
    Bottom line, guys call or email B&Ms all the time to order specials etc… This is a waning issue with plenty of coverage on how to behave in the B&M and your favorite online group.
    And yes, my B&M is too far too visit very often, but I always try to be generous as this is where the cigar makers roll out the new stuff and I may call to participate if I can on the deals. The ones that won’t transact over the phone may lose some good sales.


  6. I buy my “everyday” sticks online and specialty (Top 25) at B&M, along with attending and buying at events hosted by my local shop.


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