Opening a cigar bar can be a very lucrative endeavor. If it is done right that is. Like all successful businesses, proper planning, hard work, and a little experimentation pay off in the long run. Handsomely.
Opening a Cigar Bar: Laying the Foundation
Before you order those aromatic, flavorful cigars your customers will love, do a bit of research first. Some of the things you need to determine are:
1. Become Familiar With the New Tobacco Laws
Previously, obtaining cigars was a hassle free process in the United States. This wonderful luxury was not restricted to any severe laws. But on August 9, 2016, everything changed. A dark shadow came over the US tobacco industry in the form of new FDA regulations. A new FDA law went into effect regulating all tobacco products to include cigarillos, e-cigarettes, pipe and hookah, and premium cigars. In other words, they will be in the same category and subjected to the same restrictions as cigarettes. Talk about a big bummer.
Some of the changes the new tobacco laws will bring are:
- Higher Taxation. This automatically means an increase in cigar prices.
- Restrictions on new blends. The new tobacco laws state that any cigar blends that are introduced after August 2016 will be subject to FDA approval. This will impact manufacturers and consumers alike as manufacturers will be slowed down in releasing their innovative blends. Customers will have a limited choice and will miss out on limited edition specials as they will have to pass through the FDA first.
- Loss of some established brands. The FDA stated that it expects only 60% of existing brands on the premium cigar market to make the cut and be grandfathered in. The other 40% will be forced off the market by new provisions and laws. That’s a whopping 40% of cigar brands that people have come love going off the market.
2. Understand Your Local State Tobacco Laws
Every state has different laws governing the manufacture, distribution, and use of tobacco products. Get familiar with your state tobacco laws and work within them. For example, in California, California Labor Code section 6404.5 restricts smoking in enclosed workspaces with the exception of establishments that trade in tobacco as they are “dedicated” to the use of tobacco. But a debate arose as to whether this law still applies if the cigar bar also sells food as part of its business, as it is no longer solely “dedicated” to tobacco use.
In a nutshell, get to know your state tobacco laws and abide by them. In most states, getting the right certification to open a cigar bar is part of the regulations. Go through all the necessary paperwork, boring as it may be.
Okay, now we are done with the boring stuff, now to more exciting stuff - opening a cigar bar.
Invest in the Right Equipment
The equipment you need will depend on your ultimate vision, design, and magnitude of your cigar bar. That being said though, there are some basic tools and accessories you will need to run a successful cigar bar. Things like humidors, cigar cutters, and cigar lighters. Don’t skimp on your equipment. After all, you are selling premium smoke, and thus it must be complemented by equipment to match.
Buy Cigars Wholesale
The procurement of your cigars is a critical part of your business that you should treat with all due diligence. You can get different blends from different sources both online and in traditional brick and mortar establishments. But this is not wise as you will not have consistent flavors to offer your clients. Many cigar smokers prefer a particular taste and flavor. If you lack consistency in that department, you will lose patronage faster than it takes a cigar to burn out.
The solution is to build a relationship with a manufacturer or 2 and buy your cigars wholesale.
Not only does buying cigars wholesale ensure consistency of flavor, it also assures you of a consistent supply and cuts down on costs.
Get Attractive Cigar Bar Signs
The greatest challenge any new business faces is breaking into an already saturated market. Tough as it may be, it is very doable if done right.
One of the major ways you can “break in” is through visual media – cigar bar signs to be more precise. The kind of cigar bar signs you choose to go with should be a reflection of what your establishment has to offer and your vision. This is important because it will help you to attract “kindred spirits”.
Whether you decide to go all out and get vintage cigar bar signs, classic, or ultra modern signs, one thing is sure – you definitely need one.
Open for Business
I bet you can’t wait to see that sign on the door of your soon-to-be-open cigar bar. Don’t worry, with a little hard work, a lot of patience, and a good dose of planning will get you there.