The 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show is almost over, and I am the last one from the halfwheel team to post a recap. While the dry climate is certainly an issue for everyone attending the show, there were more pressing matters that continued to come up in conversations over and over again over the past four days.
- Yes, CigarCon is a Big Deal — Everywhere you go, everyone, you talk to, in every booth you visit, there is one major thing on people’s minds: CigarCon. The consumer day portion of the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show—sorry, I meant PCA 2020—is a big deal, and I did not go more than 15 minutes without being asked my opinion on it. Interestingly, while there were a number of both retailers and manufacturers alike that had strong opinions on it, the vast majority I talked to said they were at least willing to wait and see how the details fleshed out before making a final determination.
- Trade Show Floor/Attendance — Every year, I hear a variation of the same thing: the trade show floor looks empty, there are not as many people in attendance, sales are down—but not too far down—you could roll a bowling ball down the aisle and never hit anyone. Having spent close to eight hours a day on the trade show floor for the past four days, I can confirm that the show looks more sparsely populated this year, but I can also report that a number of manufacturers informed me that they were having no issues selling more cigars than ever before. That includes Plasencia Cigars, which was so busy each time I walked by on the first day, I made it a point to visit the booth multiple times a day after that just to see if it remained that way throughout the duration of the show—the answer is yes, for what it is worth.
- Smaller Cigars Everywhere — I hesitate to name it an official trend, but I could not help but notice the number of smaller cigars being introduced at this year’s show, specifically in the 4 x 34/38 petite corona vitola. The first one I saw in person was the H. Upmann Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez Papis—which I enjoyed quite a bit when I smoked it at the Altadis media dinner on Thursday—but then I ran across a very similar vitola being released in La Flor Dominicana’s La Volada line as well as one in Fratello’s Classico line named the Piccolo. While all three of the aforementioned releases are hand-rolled, they also carry prices that reflect that fact, with the La Flor Dominicana La Volcada Petite retailing for $4 each. I applaud manufacturers for producing smaller cigars as options for those that want them, but will be interested to see if consumers pay the premium price for them.
- The Best Coffee on the Trade Show Floor — There are any number of manufacturers who make it a point to serve coffee to whoever stops in and is willing to wait, including Miami Cigar & Co. and La Palina Cigars. However, my vote for best coffee goes to Plasencia Cigars, which not only had a barista on hand to make whatever drink was asked for, but also some really great condiments to add to said drinks, including dark chocolate shavings that paired perfectly with my cappuccino. Having said that, I was a bit disappointed that Plasencia did not serve coffee all day, instead, switching to beer after lunch each day, which was basically the time frame that I needed a caffeine pick me up the most.