According to Baker, many customers become regulars and even dues-paying members.
In exchange for annual dues, members receive a locker on the premises, as well as discounts on both individual cigars and boxes. The store’s 75 lockers are always all taken, and Baker maintains a waiting list in case someone moves or decides not to renew their lease.
He attributes that loyal customer base to the store’s welcoming design and the spirit of camaraderie that infuses the atmosphere. The store has a core group of regulars, many of whom have forged friendships in its lounges. “What I love about cigars is that you have people from so many walks of life all coming together to share a common interest on equal ground,” Baker says. “You’ll have a lawyer and a local business owner sitting with a teacher and a plumber, and they forget about everything going on outside of the walls of the store. It’s such a great pastime for that reason.”
A Full Calendar
Events, which have long been a staple for the store, can also be a big factor in both attracting new customers and reinforcing relationships with existing ones. Tobacco Grove holds at least 10 gatherings each year. One favorite among its regular customers is an annual Davidoff dinner. The shop is a Davidoff White Label merchant and recently received the coveted Davidoff Golden Band award. “It’s fine dining in the store,” says Baker, who says he brings in tables and china and caps attendance at 70 guests for that event.
More typical, however, are buying events that are open to the public and feature a cigar company guest host. “Someone like Rocky Patel will come in,” says Baker. “We just did a monster event with Pete Johnson and Dan Welsh from Tatuaje Cigars that got a great turnout.”
Making sure that the store always has an event coming up is no easy feat, but ultimately it’s making the extra effort on things like keeping that calendar going, stellar service and a well-stocked, neat and organized store that delivers results. “Each year, we set our goals and talk about the events we want to do, and every day we try to be better. I tell my employees that I always need to leave the store somehow better than I found it. And so far, every year, we’ve had consistent growth.”
This story first appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.
– Story Jennifer Gelfand, editor-in-chief of Tobacco Business Magazine.