I’m not exactly sure where to start my recap of day 2, other than to say that my feet hurt. Day 2 is the only full day of the Total Product Expo, meaning that the show floor opens at 9:30 a.m. for media members and 10:30 a.m. for retail attendees, before closing at 5 p.m. That means I’ve been walking the floor for about seven-and-a-half hours, and let’s just say I’m glad I’m not wearing a fitness tracking device as I’m not sure I’d want to know how many steps I put in today.

After making a pretty good dive into the red-carpeted, premium cigar side of the show floor on Tuesday, Wednesday was largely more of the same. More pictures of new products, and more conversations with manufacturers, brand owners, retailers and other attendees. The STG acquisition of Alec Bradley dominated much of those conversations, as did conversation about chatter people are hearing that the PCA Convention & Trade Show will be moving to April in 2024, something that has been neither confirmed nor denied by the Premium Cigar Association.

There were also lots of people asking some version of the familiar question: see anything interesting?

There has been plenty of things to see in the premium cigar section of the floor, and while I’m not one to pick a favorite, I think the thing that intrigued me most is what new product(s) might help take a company to the next stage of their growth. For instance, a principle in a cigar company was asking me about sales reps, and it led me to wonder if the new cigar they are debuting at TPE might be the one that creates the connection with a broker or in-house rep that helps them get into more stores, generate more sales, and grow their business. Or which new cigar or accessory might garner a high rating and thus bring some attention to a company that’s not on people’s radars.

Those are questions that will take some time to answer, but I find it fascinating to consider what seeds being planted over the three days of the 2023 TPE show might produce big results down the road.

Once the show was wrapped up, it was back to the hotel and off to dinner at Brezza in Resorts World for what is described as coastal Italian fare. Given the length of the day and my increasing desire to get a good night’s sleep, it was back to my room to get some writing done before calling it a night.

Looking ahead to day 3, I’ll be back on the floor at 9:30 a.m. PST until about 2 p.m., when I’ll head to the airport to get home and begin one of my favorite times of the year, Major League Baseball’s spring training. As some readers might know, I also work in pro baseball, so I’m excited to get back to that after the winter off-season.

I’m hoping to see a bit more of the blue-carpeted portions of the show floor, though given how big TPE has become, I’m almost sure I won’t see it all, as I want to make sure I visit as many booths on the premium cigar side as possible. Meanwhile, Charlie Minato will be on the floor until it closes at 4 p.m. and the fervent tear-down of all the booths begins so that whatever the next trade show or event can move into the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Overall Score

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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.