As the final day of 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show begins, here are some of the things I have noticed, heard about and thought about while walking around the floor the past three days:

  • Business was Booming (At least on the First Two Days) — Multiple manufacturers told me that they had massive sales on the first and second days of the show, although the third day—yesterday—was lighter than it had been in the past. “There were fewer people overall, but the retailers that are here came to buy and came to buy big,” said one brand owner to me.
  • Samller Companies Think Altadis, Davidoff, Drew Estate and General Not Attending Are Helping Them — Along with the above, the majority of smaller brands that I talked to indicated they thought the fact that the large companies who decided to not attend this year’s show is a big reason—if not the biggest reason—that they were seeing such large sales. This was backed up by multiple store owners I talked to, who said they had more time to walk the floor and see brands they would not normally visit this year.
  • People are Thrilled to be Back — I mentioned this in my recap of TPE 2021, but I think it is important enough to be repeated. Just about everyone I talked to was thrilled to be together with others in the industry for the first time in almost two years, and the positive vibes were inescapable. Huge smiles, firm handshakes and loud laughter was commonplace, and it seemed to me that people were talking for quite a bit longer than normal.
  • Some People Are Surprised to Be Leaving Early — We knew the number of booths would be significantly fewer than it was in 2019. Even so, people were surprised at just how little time it took to walk the entire show floor. While walking around on the second day, I talked to a few retailers who told me that they had already finished their rounds and purchased everything they were going to and that they were changing their flights to leave two days early. In addition, Warped started packing up its booth before the last day even started and Caldwell appears to have also left the show before Day 4.
Drew Estate is the sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.