Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Does anyone at your local cigar store know anything about cigars?

I think we all know that the best place to buy cigars and get a great deal is on the internet. There are literally hundreds of places to find cigars, and many of them have exceptionally good prices even considering the additional charges for shipping.

But dammit, there's nothing quite like meandering around a walk-in humidor and exploring new or forgotten smoking options.

One of the big problems finding a local tobacconist is that a lot of these little mom and pop cigar shops only have a humidor to supplement their income from selling hookahs and cigarettes and there probably isn't anyone there who knows the first thing about cigars.

I stop by five or six different establishments from time to time, and have come to know what they carry which fits my taste and budget. But sometimes it's frustrating when you're looking for a recommendation for a new smoking experience. If the proprietor or employee isn't a cigar smoker, they're probably going to recommend a cigar that isn't moving or what the salesman told them is a big profit item.

One cigar shop which I used to frequent hired a kid in his early 20s to man the store. When I walked into the humidor it was at least 80 degrees and the humidity was well over 85%. I asked "the kid" why the humidor was set so high and he informed me that when it's set that high it keeps the cigars moist (aka: wet) and they are perfect to smoke an hour after purchasing. What???

I asked him if there was any extra charge for the cigar beetles obviously hatching and destroying the cigars.

On another occasion, I stopped in a tobacconist and noticed that the machine-rolled robusto rejects were priced at $5 a stick. When I asked why they were so expensive, I was told that they use very high quality tobacco to create these cigars. Again, WHAT??? These were the same cigars that you can buy anywhere for a buck and a half (not that you ever should).

First rule: unless it's an emergency, never buy a cigar from a place that has their humidor on the counter (probably without a humidification system or hygrometer). Second rule: if you're new to the store, ask the proprietor for a recommendation of a six dollar, medium bodied cigar and see what they come up with. It's usually immediately clear if they have a clue.

I'm lucky enough to live close to two excellent sources of cigars, Smokers Only in Eastpointe, Michigan and probably the second best cigar store on the planet, JR Cigars in Southfield, Michigan (the first best being their original store in South Carolina).

Please email me your cigar store recommendations, locations and horror stories to

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