An ultra-boutique brand from recent years has changed hands and the new owner is planning its return to store shelves.
Benjamin Holt, a sales representative for Boutiques Unified, has announced that he has acquired Dissident Cigars from Neil Edwards and Jason Webster, who also own The Humidor Cigars and Lounge in Wichita, Kan.
“I have always thought that Dissident had huge potential and in time I would like to bring this brand back into the market,” Holt said via a press release. “There are numerous objectives that need to be met first before that can happen and I am working with some incredible people to see that come to pass.”
As for when the brand will return to shelves, Holt declined to speculate. “There is still a lot of work to be done on the backend of things,” he told halfwheel, adding that he is working with some “very talented people” on the relaunch while also learning from the brand’s history about how to do things right. Holt added that he did not acquire any existing cigars as part of the transaction, so it will almost certainly be some time before the brand has product to sell. He declined to comment on any factories he may be using for production of the cigars, but confirmed that his plan is to release the old lines “in due time” with new branding and a new structure.
He did note that he will not be using the company’s existing website or social media channels as part of the relaunch.
“My intent with Dissident is to learn from those lessons and utilize my experience from both the retail side and as a cigar representative to create a cigar brand for a new generation of cigar smokers,” he said via a press release.
Holt is currently a sales representative for Boutiques Unified, a company owned by L.J. Zucca that currently handles distribution for Black Label Trading Co. as well as the Zucca-owned Emilio Cigars brand. He joined Boutiques Unified in 2016; prior to that, he represented Black Label Trading Co., joining that company in 2015 before they signed on with Boutiques Unified. “Ben has been an integral part of the BLTC team over the years and we are very excited for him as he takes a big leap into brand ownership,” the company said in a statement to halfwheel.
He has also worked in retail, beginning his career at TJ’s Cigar Lounge in McGregor, Texas.
He will continue his role with L.J. Zucca while he lays the groundwork for the return of Dissident. “I’m excited for him and wish him much success in his new endeavor,” Scott Zucca said to halfwheel.
Dissident Cigars debuted in 2013, largely via cigars handed out on the floor of the 2013 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show under the ownership of Edwards and Webster. However, the brand was better associated with Gorden Crippen and Ryan Johnson, both of whom were employees at the The Humidor Cigars and Lounge and became the faces of Dissident Cigars. Crippen referred to himself as a co-founder of the brand, though it remained unclear whether he had any ownership stake. The pair separated from both the brand and the retail shop in Oct. 2015.
At its peak, the company’s portfolio contained three lines, BLOC, Soap Box and Home, each of which were fairly limited releases, though BLOC and Soap Box were said to be regular production releases. The company never revealed the name of the factories that made their cigars, other than the first two came from Nicaragua while Home came from Honduras. It had booths at the 2014 and 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Shows.