I generally find Day 3 of the PCA Convention & Trade Show to be one of the turning points of the event; in the case of this year, the weekend is over and I have to imagine that a fair number of retailers have headed home at some point on Monday. I know that a few manufacturers and cigar company personnel have departed or are planning to depart at some point today as well, leaving a smaller number of staff in the booths to handle what they seem to think will be smaller crowds for Tuesday’s shortened session, as the show floor is open from 9-1 as opposed to the 10-6 times of the other days.
As for the first three days of this year’s trade show, a few things that have come up in conversations that have caught my attention:
- The potential UPS strike — While we talk a lot about new products, we also talk about the dates when those cigars and accessories will ship to stores. A lot of companies will have products slated to ship in July or early August, which could be affected if the UPS Teamsters decide to strike when their contract with UPS expires on July 31.Certainly, a strike that effectively shuts down one of the largest shipping companies in the country will affect lots more than cigars, but the fallout will be felt all the same. That said, there are also a lot of companies who weren’t aware of the pending strike, and I hate to think about new cigars being sent out at the end of the month only to have the strike start and cigars sit in UPS warehouses across the country and in potentially unfavorable conditions.
- Price creep — This has been touched on before, but I find myself still a bit stunned by some of the prices being asked for cigars. Or cigar releases, I should say. Single-stick prices probably aren’t that bad, but much like we’ve seen from Habanos S.A., it feels like regular production and even limited editions in standard boxes have been replaced by higher-end, higher-dollar limited editions that come in humidors.I’m not here to say that everything should be affordable to everyone, and companies are free to create what they want and ask whatever price they want for it. This just feels like a year when prices creeping up feels a lot more noticeable.
- Booths Are Getting Bigger — As I wrote at the time, I loved the scaled-down booths of the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show, with many companies eschewing not just extra space but many add-ons such as large structures and rotating banners hung from the ceiling. Some of those are beginning to come back, as evidenced by new booths from My Father Cigars and La Aurora that were both pretty grand.
- The BCA Pavillion Seems to Have Worked — I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but it seems like the Boutique Cigar Association Pavillion achieved its desired outcome, which is making the trade show more accessible for smaller companies.The traffic in the BCA Pavilion seemed solid, I was told there weren’t any complaints or gripes from exhibitors, and it seems like this could be a good step for both organizations to develop their relationship for the benefit of the trade show as well as cigar companies of all sizes.
Tuesday will close out the trade show, and I’ll kick off our coverage with an interview with Pierre Jourdan, co-founder of Les Fines Lames, and we’ll talk about some big news from the company that came out this week, as well as the company’s new products for the trade show. We’ll have another contest and more booth posts. We’ll eventually pack up our bunker and head back to our respective homes, but while the show may be over, our coverage continues in the coming days until every booth we visited gets posted.