Sunday, September 30, 2007

Make Up Girl vs. Certified Tobacconist

I experienced extreme shock this Friday when my girlfriend dragged me to the mall for a sale at bloomies. Just before the main event, she pushed me into a giant apothecary/beauty product store. While I doubt the veracity of anything they tell me in that store (i.e. look younger , eliminate wrinkles, etc...) I was impressed with their retail strategy. As we were waiting for an atomic sized sample of pomade or cream, I noticed that the Colorologist/Makeup artist/creamologist (or whatever) was wearing a pin that said Color Specialist. Now, this young lady was barely old enough to drive, so dispensing cream seemed like a challenge, yet she proceeded to tell me about her extensive training in "Color". How she traveled to the big city for days of intensive courses and her certificate. In addition, she will also be receiving another degree in another female beauty ritual which I can't remember at this moment.

Dear TOBACCONISTS, THIS IS A WAKE UP CALL. If the barely post pubescent girl at the make up store has credentials and certification, WE ARE LONG OVERDUE. Retail Certification through Tobacconist University is free for retailers, and we are far behind even the most absurd of industries. My advice is start studying!!! It is time to invest in our own CREDIBILITY and FUTURE. If society thinks that makeup girls at the mall are more knowledgeable than Tobacconists, then we will never survive.

Make your contribution towards "PRESERVING LUXURY TOBACCO FOR GENERATIONS TO COME", and improving your own businesses. Check out the new, and evolving Certified Tobacconist Page: this will be the place where TU aggregates, promotes, and shows off the world's greatest Tobacconists: all it takes is a little Focus and Commitment to be the best. Currently we are Certifying Salesforce Tobacconists (CST) so that they may go out and administer the test to Certified Retail Tobacconists (CRT): and all of this is free! We are building the brotherhood and proving to the world that our Credibility, Professionalism, and Value are real. Earn your Pin!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Retail Shoplifters

These animals are real pros. They have the nerve/confidence to steal while a Tobacconist is in the Humidor with them. It does not seem to slow them down one bit. Adding insult to injury, they disheveled cigars, boxes, packaging, and they purchased ONE cigar: most shoplifters purchase at least one inexpensive item, probably thinking that is their 'smoke screen'.

I am posting this video contrary to some very good advice: two days ago Guillermo Leon told me to consult my attorney first. I'm sure he is wiser, smarter and more prudent than me, but I can't resist. Retail Tobacconists deal with this insanity every day and they must be educated and warned. Besides, attorneys are on the wrong side of justice at least 50% of the time, and I can't count on law enforcement helping us at all. The last criminal we prosecuted (we were lucky enough to catch him) merely had to pay back the cost of one cigar, yet he stole dozens. That is a joke since it cost us and the legal system hundreds of hours just to be compensated twenty bucks.

This, and many more videos will become part of the Tobacconist University Service College section on Retail Theft/Shoplifting. It costs us over ten thousand dollars a year per store just to compensate for the losses; as if retail wasn't difficult enough. I hope these images will help us survive. And I hope these animals are not breeding and producing another generation of degenerates.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Carry an Unlit Cigar

I urge you, beg, and plead with you to carry an unlit cigar with you everywhere you go, as often as possible!!! This silent act can snowball and have a positive, lasting effect... I'm just not sure how, just yet.

Why beg and plead with my fellow cigar smokers and Tobacconists to carry an unlit cigar with them? Well perhaps I am selfish. But maybe we are onto something. We have to promote a good, positive and healthy image, and that is impossible to do since we have been banned from the rest of civil society. And most cigar smokers are good, positive, and healthy people. I rarely see people on the streets, malls, or in public places with cigars anymore. That is because we have been ostracized. I get coughed at and mocked by children as well as adults. THEY ARE WINNING. And we are retreating to our backyards.

I often have a partially smoked cigar in my hand. I walk into stores, restaurants, hotels, anywhere and everywhere. It is part of the condition of modern man, there is rarely enough time to finish a great cigar without getting interrupted or having to do something. So, I let my cigars extinguish and then I tote them along whenever possible. My hands like the feel of it and I often put it in my mouth to remind me of the joy I will soon be rewarded with. Ironically, partially smoked cigars smell bad. But that doesn't bother me. And if it bothers other people, then maybe they will prefer us to light them up.

But I am inspired to compel my luxury tobacco loving brothers to carry unlit cigars because I have been harassed far too many times this year. Simply put, Smokerism (the hatred and discrimination of smokers) has gotten out of hand. I was at the county fair, walking into a barn and a handful of children ran up to me and verbally attacked me: "put it out", "you can't smoke", "you're going to die", "the hay will catch fire", "save the animals",... etc. As if I was going to set all of the cows on fire. The cigar was not lit. A couple of months ago at the balloon festival I thought festival goers might just lynch me. Someone told me my cigar "is going to blow us all up". As if I was the guy piloting the balloon; I was just spectating... but the list goes on. Just last week I was leaving a casino, getting my car and two minutes into the process the attendant looks up and asks me "Is that lit?". And I said "If you need to ask....". And she said, "well it smells". And I said, "Oh well, where there is smoke there is fire and you have no right to avoid odor-annoyance". And then I wish I said your perfume smells like (insert expletive here)... but I didn't. These tall tales, and many more similar ones, are completely true. I can't take more than a few steps some days without being chastised. Well, (insert expletive here) you!

Please carry your cigars on you. Show the world we are not pariahs, social deviants, or demons. People must become desensitized to our passions because the current level of hysteria is driving them mad. We have rights. You have rights. Let's respect each other.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Banning Fast Food?

If I had a therapist I think they would force me to write this particular blog so my head would not explode.

Some intellectually bankrupt and misguided politicians in Los Angeles are trying to ban any new fast food establishments from opening in south Los Angeles, since the "obesity" rate is 6% higher there than in the rest of the city/county. I contend that AMERICAN legislators have gone completely mad and lost all sense of what AMERICA is. And of course, there are marginal "authorities" popping up all over the area praising this ridiculous act because they believe it will help people be "healthier". All of this with no regard to free market, capitalist, or democratic principles, much less the value of FREEDOM and the Individual Pursuit of Happiness. Of course I don't believe fast food leads to happiness, but I also don't think this is the right approach: Masking symptoms does Not cure the disease. And I would imagine that the so-called "disease" of obesity in this area is probably linked more to lower incomes and failing educational systems. We should be helping people empower themselves instead of taking away their choices and freedoms! (good, bad or indifferent)

Where are today's Big Thinkers? Leaders with long term vision? And Legislators with an appreciation for our Constitution? I suspect the only ones left are sitting around at their retail Tobacconists lamenting the sad state of our nation's small minded legislators.

When will we learn that legislating "HEALTH" is not the job of government? Nor can a society be managed by health statistics, or its success be determined by individual longevity!!!

It is the job of our government to protect our FREEDOMS and our Inalienable Pursuit of HAPPINESS... as defined by the individual.

There........ the pressure in my head has been relieved a little... now it is time to smoke a cigar...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shoplifting Scumbags

Retail is Guerrilla Warfare. While most customers are pleasant and wonderful, occasionally retail Tobacconists unwittingly service thieving scumbags with no respect for social order or any sense of morality. The first lesson of retail shoplifting is that you Cannot profile. You can never predict who will steal from you. In this case, these middle aged villains took us for $667 on Labor day in less than two minutes. Just going through the videos to find these pictures to post has made me sick to my stomach. We gave these animals great service, said please and thank you, and welcomed them into our home/humidor with open arms. In return, they stole hundreds of dollars worth of Padron 26's and Ashton VSG's. I imagine these are the kind of people who beat their dogs and children; they are vile humans. While I am not a violent person, I wish I was there to exact some justice. Ironically, our Manager walked into the humidor to see if he could be helpful, and the husband blocked his view while his haggardly wife continued to pillage us: did i mention it was $667!!!

Obviously these (insert expletive here) were very professional. We did almost all we could to prevent their thieving. The major challenge for retail Tobacconists is giving their customers enough space to enjoy their shopping experience, and having a walk-in humidor is a HUGE risk. But I am passionate about providing that space for our customers so that they may be surrounded by our amazing products. It is a catch 22, and I fully understand why many Tobacconists separate and protect their most valuable products. I hope we never have to resort to that, but we live in a crazy mixed up world where anything is possible.

I hope that our customers appreciate how hard we work to keep prices reasonable and to make their shopping experience as pleasurable as possible. Unfortunately there are always rotten people around to spoil the party. This was our biggest one day theft in over twelve years of business, and I desperately hope that it doesn't happen again. If you see these animals on the street, I hope you will feel disgusted and compelled enough to kick them in the shins.

Currently, I have several videos of these (insert another expletive here) and other criminals which will be posted on Tobacconist University Service College. Hopefully these videos and the complimentary content will help retail Tobacconists deal with the problem: it effects our bottom line and makes business extremely difficult. The more you observe animals in the wild, the more you will understand them. So stay tuned for the Shoplifting section in Service College.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Happy 12th

Today, September 8, 2007 is my 12 year Anniversary as a retail Tobacconist in Princeton, NJ. I almost forgot until my mother called to congratulate me. In Cuban culture September 8th is a special, holy, and lucky day, so by coincidence, synchronicity, or just plain luck, this is an auspicious day for me.

I'm not necessarily fond of anniversaries or birthdays, but this seems like an important one. After all, when I opened A Little Taste of Cuba in 1995 the cigar boom was just kicking into high gear, the internet was blossoming, the economy was booming, tobacco taxes were a fraction of what they are today, and you could still smoke in some restaurants and entertainment venues: those were 'heady' days and I was too young and busy working to truly appreciate them. I was so young I had to maintain a '5 o'clock' shadow just to look old enough to smoke. I made a lot of mistakes (still do) and spent all of my time LEARNING voraciously. Ironically, I still feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I DON'T KNOW. I suppose that is why I started Tobacconist University!

I'm reminded of something one of the Georgetown Tobacco Tobacconists told me last month. I will paraphrase:
'There are Tobacconists who have forgotten more than I have ever known.'

That rings powerfully true to me. There is so much more to learn!!! And there is so much more content coming up on Tobacconist University that is seems overwhelming while I spend my time writing emails, letters, and faxes to my senators, governor, and congressmen, trying to preserve our luxury tobacco industry. But I am still positive. The products inspire me. The customers inspire me. And Tobacconists inspire me.