The above was a post written by our fearless leader in response to my IPCPR2014 Q&A thread. He brings up some astonishingly good points about the lackadaisical attitude IPCPR (organizationally) seems to have. What do they actually do? What should they actually do? How can they unify tobacconists more? Should they focus on education (such as the CRA seems to) or do they focus on the retail side of things (as Kip is discussing above)? What are your thoughts?Kip wrote:...I'm with you on being focused in the state of the industry as a whole....and I think that retailers are largely in the dark about what could be coming down the pike. I'll speculate that it's another facet of IPCPR being decades behind the curve. Instead of focusing on building a tangible network of tobacconists, it's turned into a one-trick pony. IPCPR is just a tradeshow facilitator. A few emails throughout the year about some legislative changes isn't working. The MOST I see on the frontlines (in the shops) is a few flyers dropped on the counter, with the hope that a consumer might stumble onto them and make a phone call or write an email. For the most part, retailers are not invested in IPCPR until it's time to pay their dues and book flights to the show.
Many "tobacconists" today aren't really. Don't get me wrong - there are some left. But, many are glorified cigarette stores that happen to still have a humidor. The number of stores I visit that have local college kids running a cash register who know nothing about cigars is staggering (take my recent "Mr. Drew Estate" story as an example). These folks can go grab another retail job if this one falls through. Do we really expect to have buy-in for the legislative future of an industry the sales folks aren't interested in? Now, the reasoning for this is manifold, I suspect. Slim margins that have dictated shops hiring folks willing to work for less pay? The shrinkage of the number of cigar smokers over past decades when "real" tobacconists were aplenty? I don't know. Whatever the reason, the result is the same.
My main, off the cuff, no preparation ideas center around building a trusting network of tobacconists who strive to meet the precedent/ideals put forth by their organizational body. As with so many organizations there is too much smoke and not enough fire. Does the answer lie within T.U. and the greater education of shop ownership & employees? I tend to think so but perhaps not so much from a corojo, filler/binder/wrapper, fermentation vs. curing, etc discussion. I think IPCPR should be willing to provide the outline for successful tobacconist structure. There should be regional quantitative data available to member shops providing purchase information and/or marketing suggestions. Guidelines at the construction phase should be available because the market has changed so drastically in 10-15 years. The humidor SF heavy shops of the late 90's may now be obsolete compared to the lounge SF heavy shops in today's "anti public smoking" atmosphere (no pun intended). I know it's a TON of responsibility & information but frankly, we're dealing with one of the most volatile (legislatively) consumables on the market today and the security & future of the industry as we know it hangs in the balance.
What is most important these days that the IPCPR should be informing its members about; the FDA. We have 16 days to fight for our rights. If not, this tradeshow-centric organization might just be scrambling to figure out how to get people to the 83rd IPCPR if samples are not allowed to be distributed. Who would want to come then? The discounted pricing could be available without a trade show and then this organization would really have nothing to do.