Friday, February 27, 2009

Tobacco Beetle Video

video

I do believe this is the world's most extraordinary tobacco beetle video. Of course, you will learn everything you need to know about tobacco beetles and how to eradicate them, but there is more....

WARNING: this video documents the intentional decapitation of a tobacco beetle pupa; the voracious creature that ruined the cigars you see on camera. Admittedly, this is a deviation from our other educational videos, in that we normally would not harm a living creature or add sound effects to enhance the experience. But, anyone who has ever experienced a beetle infestation knows the heartache and emotions involved. Furthermore, there are practical considerations, as a beetle cannot be allowed to live and procreate. So, it had to be done.

We have done a lot of bizarre experiments at Tobacconist University, including growing cigar mold, freezing cigars and smoking them, switching wrappers, and more.... all in the pursuit of knowledge in order to share and teach. But, growing a tobacco beetle infestation has to qualify as one of the most bizarre experiences to date. I hope you enjoy the video and learn something too.... there is plenty more content on L. serricorne in the TU FAQ.

TOBACCONIST ANECDOTE: About twenty years ago, a Tobacconist in a major market in the United States was having beetle outbreaks in one of their humidors. They were losing cigars on a weekly basis and didn't know how to kill the beetles. To remedy the problem they would put lizards (geckos I think) in the humidor at night and collect them in the morning. From their point of view, this seemed to work. But, the problem was trying to catch the lizards in the morning. I can only imagine the challenges... apparently they are slimy and fast. Anyway, being protective of their cigars and diligent in their pursuit of the beetles, the Tobacconist starting tying the lizards to a string at night, so they could be caught in the morning. I think things went well for a while, until they found the lizard hanged and lifeless one morning. Whether the lizard killed itself intentionally or suffered from a terrible accident will never be known. Fortunately, we have better information today and consumers and Tobacconists alike know where to get educated.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Great Humidor Catastrophe of 2009

No matter how much you dote on your cigars and humidor, there are always events and malfunctions out of our control. Last month the hygrostat (humidity control) in one of my walk-ins failed to work properly. Over the course of one night the humidity shot up into the nineties and devastated several hundred dollars worth of cigars. Fortunately, most of the cigars that were hyper-saturated survived without permanent damage. As you can see in the picture above, the cigars were laid out on paper towels to dry the wrappers and help them return to normal humidity levels. Fortunately, the few hours they spent in 90+% humidity did not ruin all of the cigars. Had this happened for an extended period of time, all would have been lost. However, a few dozen cigars did not make it through the night. Mostly, they suffered from wrapper damage which resulted from expansion. Most bulged and tore at the foot while others burst in the center. Some of the cigars were permanently disfigured as they contorted while expanding and contracting.

On The Bright Side
I have been smoking the aesthetically damaged cigars for over a month now and I can honestly say that their flavor+aroma qualities have not been significantly effected. While they may be ugly, they are delicious. As a professional Tobacconist, I am used to smoking damaged cigars. Some months I smoke nothing but damaged cigars. Its not so bad really.... life could be worse.

While extreme humidity can ruin cigars by fostering mold growth or drowning the leaves, it is not always a total loss. Remember, cigar tobacco is rolled at much higher humidity levels than 70% - usually in the 80-90% range. So, they can be resilient enough to recover.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebooking Phenomena


Have you noticed the cigar industry emerging on Facebook? Lately it seems like everyone is getting in on the action of this social networking tool: everyone from the 'old-timers' to the 'whipper snappers'. Whether you are the IPCPR, Tobacconist University, a cigar brand, cigar maker, or just a cigar lover, our industry is beginning to Facebook. I feel like I'm late to the party since I don't have any extraordinary technological know-how, but I may in fact be early. I say this because a huge percentage of Tobacconists don't even use email, so I think we are just beginning to scratch the surface of Facebook's potential. So, let me emphatically say that I have no idea what I'm doing on Facebook, but I am enjoying every minute of it....

Recently we added a TU group and I created a group for my retail stores. While I don't really have any goals for these endeavors, I do know that it is important to connect and build community. Perhaps that is the purpose of being on Facebook! I would argue that you don't need a goal (i.e. # of friends or members). All you need to do is put yourself and/or your company out there and connect with people. See what they are doing and learn from it - let the users generate the content. The upside is that we build a stronger community and industry!

So, if you're on Facebook, friend me up*.....


THE FINE PRINT
Of course, there is always a downside. Firstly, no matter how private Facebook seems, it is still a public forum and one should comport themselves as such. Second, and VERY IMPORTANT, is the fact that Facebook considers anything you post as [practically] their property! Facebook reserves the right to reproduce and license anything you post on your page, even after you terminate your account. So, watch your mouth! And keep your intellectual property off of Facebook!

*Disclaimer: for now, I am only friending human beings....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Clean & Organize: content preview


"Clean and Organize", while it sounds like simple common sense, there is nothing common about common sense and the simplest things can be the most profound.

Cleaning and Organizing can be the most powerful business practice you employ. If business is slow, clean and organize; if the weather is bad, clean and organize; if the country is in a recession, clean and organize; if you are bored, clean and organize. On the surface, the benefits may seem obvious: the store is cleaner, customers see you cleaning (positive perception), and things look better. But the real benefits of cleaning and organizing can be far greater. I have found thousands of dollars worth of 'missing' inventory while cleaning. More importantly, cleaning and organizing allows you to discover hidden assets, liabilities, and opportunities in your retail store (or any other business). Every basement, storeroom, shelving, closet, cabinet, drawer, and shelf in your store can reveal a hidden opportunity. Sometimes you will find old displays which can freshen up the shop, or products which have long been forgotten. But, the greatest benefit from cleaning and organizing is not the things you will find, but the potential ideas you will have. Nothing clears the mind like a fresh environment or good organization!

Whether you are a shop owner or manager who does this yourself or delegates, the rewards are always positive. Try to Clean & Organize and let us know if you discover anything special! Leave some comments on the blog or send us an email.... we would love to hear from you.