As I write this having been away from Las Vegas for about four days, my mind keeps getting drawn back to my general sentiment about the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, which can be summarized by not impressed. Thankfully, I can say that’s not how I feel after the 2018 version.
Though I don’t think impressed is quite the word I’m looking for, either. Yes there were a lot of impressive things, many of which my colleagues have already mentioned in their versions of this article, their daily recaps, or in booth visits. There were certainly plenty of impressive cigars, lighters, cutters, humidors and numerous other accessories on the show floor, but as I see it, there isn’t a single cigar or accessory that makes or breaks the show for me anymore, nor do I think will cause a massive moving of the proverbial needle. So rather than focusing on specific products, I tried to look at the show from a bit more of a macro level, and as such, came up with these three things:
1. How Good the Show Looked — I mentioned this in my Day 3 recap, but it’s one thing that has stuck in my head since leaving Las Vegas: the show floor looked really, really good this year. New booths and recently redesigned booths, many of which were really well designed and executed, left a lasting impression on me. It made me think back to 2016, when Pete Johnson of Tatuaje commented on his then-brand new booth design, indicating it was his way of making a statement and telling people that he, Tatuaje and L’Atelier Imports were “in it for the long run.”
Booths aren’t cheap, the setup and takedown of said booths aren’t cheap and storing said booths for the majority of the year isn’t cheap, so to make an investment in a new booth shows a lot of belief about the present and the future, and I believe that sentiment gets carried on to reps, retailers and media, who in turn share that with their customers and consumers.
2. The People — While this site focuses heavily on products, especially new products this time of year, they all come from people; sometimes individuals or small teams looking to grow a relatively new brand, other times from large corporate entities who have to pass things through lawyers, consultants, tasting panels, sales teams and probably multiple other departments and layers before something can come to market. Regardless, there are a lot of good people in the cigar industry, and a lot of people with something valuable and worthwhile to share with you as far as knowledge, life experience, or just comic relief.
Whether I wanted to talk about the recent crops, the issues in Nicaragua, an under-the-radar bar or restaurant, or pretty much anything else that came to mind, there was almost always someone nearby who I could chat up. Cigars certainly have their place in solitary settings, but they are so often enjoyed when in the company of others, and the week of IPCPR is a good reminder of what people have to offer besides just new products.
3. What the Future Holds — For all the doom and gloom in recent years brought on by FDA regulation, I seemed to hear a lot of talk about future projects, whether it be from manufacturers, retailers, distributors and others on the show floor, and that is always a good thing. Yes, the industry is changing and will most likely have to adjust to a new reality once FDA regulations and requirements are in full effect, but the people who make the industry go seem to show few signs of letting the looming future derail their plans to keep the cigar industry going and growing.