It’s Wise to Accessorize

Merchandising accessories for better sales

It’s Wise to Accessorize

We all agree; cigars sell. That’s why we’re in this crazy business.

We love cigars. We love selling them. We love buying them, and of course we love smoking them. So yes, we agree, cigars sell. But not always, right? Hasn’t everyone had the kind of day where you scratch your head and ask, “Where is everyone today? I have all these great cigars, and no one is coming in to buy them!” Even when you do have customers coming in, sometimes it’s just not enough sales volume to meet your expenses, let alone turn a profit. At some point you may even start thinking, “Man does not live by cigars alone.” Terrible thought, I know.

It’s a safe bet you already carry at least some smoker accessories like cigar cutters, lighters, ashtrays and humidors. The questions are: how good is your selection and how well do you merchandise these items? The quality and depth of your inventory, in addition to how diversified it is, can in great measure determine how successful you’ll be in adding accessories to your regular sales.

Lighters and cutters
Lighters and cutters, while two separate entities, are often lumped together in terms of add-on sales. It’s almost as if they were one category, and for good reason: They’re the
two essentials for cigar smoking, other than the cigar itself. While everyone has customers who declare they can cut a cigar perfectly with their teeth (or thumbnail or razor blade or pocketknife), do you really want your customers cutting cigars with something they didn’t buy from you? Not only is it your job to sell merchandise; it’s incumbent upon you, as the expert in your field, to point out the benefits of using a purpose-made utensil to gain the maximum benefit—i.e., the best cut—and to explain that “home remedy” methods can often damage the cigar, negatively impacting an otherwise enjoyable experience.

A good start is to have a counter display of the typical black plastic double guillotine cutters, which generally cost an average of $1–$1.50. Most stores get $4.95 for this item all day long. The same is true for the plastic punch cutter, whether in two-piece pull-apart form or with a push-button ejector. They easily fetch $4.95–$6.95 and, like the guillotine, make for an easy impulse item. You can also opt to have a metal version of these, either pre-packed in countertop units or in bulk for greater savings. This should increase your add-on sale to the $9.95–$14.95 range.

If it’s not an impulse sale, or for those seeking to acquire a higher-quality accessory, look to such leading brands as Colibri, Prometheus, Lotus and Xikar for finely made, good-looking and highly functional cigar cutters, in punch-cut, guillotine and V-cut form. These should be displayed in a showcase where you can arrange them aesthetically and prevent, or at least minimize, pilferage. Keeping them away from the cash counter further emphasizes the quality and value of these finer utensils.

The same concept applies to lighters. Everything from countertop units to individually boxed premium lighters and free-standing floor units can be successfully merchandised if they are prominently displayed. You’ll have the best results if you offer the full range of goods. Lighters and cutters typically sell best in black, gunmetal and either chrome or stainless steel, but you can jazz up your display with a few pieces in bright, vibrant colors. Yellow, orange and electric blue have become hot sellers. It’s then up to you to make the appropriate recommendation.

A good cigar cutter or lighter is not merely a functional tool. It can be a badge of honor. How often have you noticed one customer proudly offering his lighter or cutter to another? This not only makes the customer look good to his peers; it allows him to serve as a “silent salesman” helping to promote your merchandise.

Cigar humidors call for a different approach. You can’t realistically pile them up at the cash register, but you can still make an easy segue into suggesting them. One simple method is to have a display of humidified cigar bags on the counter. These make an excellent impulse purchase and are certainly preferable to putting cigars into a free (to the customer) cigar pouch. Some are large enough to hold an entire box of cigars, which can be the impetus for a box sale over a handful of cigars. Even if the customer chooses not to buy a cigar bag, it can open the door to talking about humidification. You might assume that the customer has a humidor, or at least knows that the cigars need to be humidified, but that’s often not the case. By asking if the purchaser has a way of storing the cigars to keep them fresh, you not only create the opportunity for a sale, but you also perform a service by preventing their purchase from becoming dry and unsmokable. They’ll probably thank you for pointing this out, and you’ve had a chance to show that you’re a knowledgeable professional.