With three days down it seems like the verdicts are starting to roll in on the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, though final thoughts will be saved until after the half day on Tuesday to see just how much last-minute business is done.

Having traversed the show floor a few times already, here are a couple of things that have stood out about this year’s show.

1. So Fresh, So Clean: I’m not exactly sure I’ll choose the right words for this, but the show feels really clean and polished this year. The booths are for the most point really on-point, and many seem to have been updated in recent years, which gives a newness and shine to the show floor.

Just thinking off the top of my head, Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s booth is quite impressive; it’s a two-story, urban loft apartment style with a really clean and polished design. It’s been mentioned that Davidoff and Ashton both have new booths, which certainly add to the feel, while Perdomo and Kristoff are two that stand out from my visits that look really good. I’d really like to see the show floor from an elevated position as I have to think it would look quite impressive.

2. Keep an Eye on Quality Importers: If there was one booth where the attitude really impressed me, it’s Quality Importers. There’s already been a lot of words written about their acquisition of XIKAR, but the company is making a big push to get into the custom-branded segment and had numerous pieces on display that show their design team’s artistic and technical capabilities.

Fabian Barrantes told me they have machines in place that can custom print logos on to lighters, cutters and all sorts of accessories in a matter of minutes and can accommodate any size run, such as the custom XIKAR Xi1 cutters that Alec and Bradley Rubin were using to celebrate the launch of their new cigar, Blind Faith.

With the team they’ve assembled, the portfolio of products they have and the technology they are employing, they could make some real noise in the cigar accessories market in the coming months.

Disclosure: XIKAR made us some custom-halfwheel cutters, something we did not ask for but is much appreciated.

3. Did The Mailman Deliver? Basketball legend—and my all-time favorite player—Karl Malone was on the floor this week with his new line of cigars that are being made at La Aurora, and he seemed to be striking up a lot of conversations both in and out of the booth. While cigar projects started by or incorporating athletes haven’t always delivered huge sales numbers, I’m intrigued to see what Malone has come up with and if it’s able to find a place on retailers’ humidors.

Day 4 is a short one, a mix of panicked retailers and media getting their last booths visited and orders placed, sometimes concerned brand owners looking to finish the show strong, and many people starting to pack up and head out. I’m not sure how much of a make-or-break day it will be for people as I suspect most of the big invoices were written up over the weekend, but it will be fairly interesting to see how the show closes, and then to watch the ensuing controlled chaos of tear-down.

Davidoff is the official sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.