Should there be a Consumer Day at IPCPR

If you keep up with Kiss My Ash Radio or frequent a few of the Cigar forums, blogs etc, you know that there is currently a push among some people to allow a Consumer Day at the annual International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer show, better known as IPCPR. For those that read this and wonder “WTF is that?” Picture Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for people who love this industry. Actually, don’t do that. Because from everything I’ve heard it’s nothing like that at all. I heard it’s like doing an indoor marathon where you have to shake everyone’s hands on the sidelines. I’ve never been, even when it was in New Orleans and I was invited. Why? Simple.

As much as a consumer may love this industry, I think there is something terribly wrong with entering into a convention under the false pretense that you are indeed a Tobacco Retailer. I know that there have been proposals for a day outlined specifically for that, but I don’t even think the added security to make sure the guys with the “green pass” went in on the day that was allowed for them. Now, that’s not to say that some consumers may be tapped to go to the show in order to “Hit all the Stops” for shops and help really get a consumers point of view, especially if the shop owner knows the individual has a well rounded palate. I’ll be honest, I get a few samples from people when they get back just to give a second opinion.

My reasoning behind not having a consumer day is pretty simple. I view the IPCPR show as the one weekend that Retailers and Manufacturers get a chance to talk on a very crowded playing field. Some have said that by Sunday, most of the retailers are gone anyway, so why not then? The key word to that sentence should be “most”. I know a few guys that hang around for the last day just to get to the tough retailers once the crowd is gone. Sure, they may hit “sold out” signs, but at least they get a chance to get their peace. And that last day moment might be the key to get a great product into a shop later down the line. It also might be the chance a retailer needs in a less crowded venue to notice “the next big thing”.

So by now, some of you are probably saying “Now wait a minute asshole! This is to raise money to fight legislation!” Okay I get that. But that’s also what the different advocate groups are for in my mind. Want to make a little heavier of an impact? Toss a jar out at the next cigar event you do and donate every bit of what comes into that jar toward Cigar Rights of America. Do you host a large Cigar Show? Let CRA set up a booth, or better yet, donate a portion of the money raised to CRA. Small things like that is how I saw over $30,000 raised for preservation of a historic collection in a museum, and I can honestly tell you that the vast majority of the individuals that donated to that cause were certainly middle class and below, and they numbered less than 300 and that was raised in less than a year. Yup. Let that sink in. Set up a raffle table, do a dinner hosted by a Brand. I bet most retailers would generally be shocked how positive the response would be on something like this. Hell, I’ll be honest, I was never moved enough to toss $100 at the CRA pack of smokes in order to get a membership. Why? Well, honestly because I didn’t like some of the brands, but if I saw a jar at an event where I could toss $10-$20 or even the change I got from a Coke, then I would probably be more in line to do it.

So please, manufacturers and retailers that might actually read this page- Do yourselves a favor, and say “No” to a consumer day at IPCPR. You guys do enough for this industry that you all deserve to be around peers, colleagues and competitors for a weekend without all the added BS of having a Consumer Day. That’s what Cigar events are for.

And to address the Bloggers at IPCPR question in case it gets brought to the table. Do I think Bloggers should be allowed to visit IPCPR? Some of them yes, and some of them no. Guys like Jerry Cruz, Ben Lee and the other nutcrackers at Stogie Review- absolutely YES. I think they have a great relationship with a lot of the Brand Owners and Manufacturers and I believe that if anything they can approach the task of interviews, reviews etc without clogging up the pipeline of information and getting in the way of what the guys are really there for- making freaking money. Which brings me to my last point.

THE IPCPR IS A TRADE SHOW! Are you in this trade? No? Then STAY AWAY FROM IT. I know guys that have dumped their life savings into opening cigar shops. I know Managers that have worked several weeks straight during the holidays or around employees vacation requests just so their consumers don’t have to stand 2 deep in line to get their smokes, and they do it without a selfish thought otherwise. Give the freaking guys time to be around the Owners without having some dude corner Pete Johnson or one of the Fuentes asking them what kewl product they have in store for them this year or if the people at Xikar will ever make a slice cutter than can nab the new 8x80s on the market. Jesus Christ, has this world really gotten so in demand that they can’t even be surprised anymore? Would you go to a medical convention just to get pens? Just leave it to the men and women who roll this industry to handle the shows, you, me and the rest of the folks just sit back and enjoy the hard labors of the work being done inside those snozberry covered walls.

Alright, that’s about it for me. Leave comments below and I’ll raffle off something. Probably not. But I might.

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