Lake Country Cigars: Thriving Under a Woman’s Touch

    Event marketing and a focus on service is a winning combination for this Wisconsin shop.



    The Kanes recently bought several Echo Dots, the voice-controlled smart device being marketed by Amazon, to use as prizes. “We’ll buy an item for $40 and the way we present it [gets] people excited about it. We’ll say, ‘Buy a box, get a ticket,’ and they do it.”

    Excellence in Events
    Often, events are held in partnership with another local business, such as a brewery, coffee company or chocolate maker. “We do evening events with fine jewelry for guys to choose jewelry,” says Kane. “Sometimes on Friday nights we have people who have unusual jobs come in and talk to people about their life, like a fighter pilot, or people who worked in foreign government. It makes people excited to come in.”

    Some events, such as the “100-Box Challenge,” are annual. The store announces a date and offers a discount to hit a sales goal of 100 boxes in a day. “We give a discount, and people from all over are calling in, and we can get as many as 160 boxes sold in a day,” explains Kane, who says the store also recently ran a “Build a Box” event. “We give a discount if customers select 24 cigars, and we have special boxes for them and they put them together. That’s an amazing day.”

    Engaging Customers
    Forming a customer advisory board that meets four times a year has helped the Kanes, who are both in their 60s, stay current with product trends among young adult cigar smokers. “We put a lot of millennials on it,” explains Kane. “Of course we have others, too, but I like to hear from them because they just blow it up in terms of how to do things.”
    Advisory board members fill out forms and are tasked with making surprise store visits, and are rewarded with perks. “People are dying to get on it because it’s fun, they get to know the inside-out of the business, and we share a lot of our strategies with them,” says Kane.

    The multi-faceted marketing approach the Kanes have implemented sets a high bar for any retail shop, yet it’s their ability to stay focused on the reason they initially got into the business that may ultimately be the secret to their success. ‟In retail, today is the day, and the time is now. The sale is made when the customer’s here. So, we’re serious. But the ease and the lightness of the store is because it isn’t all about sales. That’s the coolest thing because I don’t think our customers feel that it is at all. I think they feel that it’s all about having a good time, and relating to each other, and enjoying it. Everything is packaged in a way that makes it nice for the customer. We just give them opportunities to buy.”

    Lake County Cigars
    2566 Sun Valley Dr #1
    Delafield, WI 53018
    (262) 646-7530

    Story by Peter Barry