Cigar Buying Guides

Buying Cigars Online Vs. Brick & Mortar

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Buying Cigars Online Vs. Local Cigar Shops: What to Expect

Updated January 2023

Can you buy cigars online?

Yes, you can. Buying cigars online is the more common means for purchasing premium cigars, rather than buying them at the local cigar shop. These businesses are referred to as brick and mortar (B&M) tobacco stores. Some cigar smokers buy exclusively online for price, selection, and convenience, while others prefer the experience of a store where they can see and feel the product in-person. Then there are those who buy their cigars both online and at their local tobacconist (I’m one who goes to both, read more for why).


Where’s the best place to buy cigars online?

cigar advisor buying cigars online vs local cigar shop - man shopping on

Our favorite online retailer is Famous Smoke Shop. We’re the oldest family-owned online cigar business in the United States and carry an enormous selection of cigars from the biggest premium and machine-made brands to the most obscure boutiques…and everything in between. With countless satisfied customers, you can trust Famous to deliver quality cigars every time; browse their reviews to see for yourself!


What are the top-selling cigars online?

Here, we have a list of Famous Smoke Shop’s bestselling national brand cigars online in 2022.

Baccarat Rothschild
Arturo Fuente Double Chateau
Romeo y Julieta Reserve Toro
Oliva Serie V 135th Anniversary
Drew Estate Liga Privada Papa Fritas

It’s worth noting that  the overall top three highest-selling cigars on the Famous website are exclusive brands (Inferno by Oliva 660, Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet Toro, Rocky Patel Junior Connecticut). Results from other sites may vary.


Where’s the best place to buy cigars locally?

Did you know that Famous Smoke Shop also has a B&M cigar store? One of the few cigar retailers to have both online and local businesses, Famous operates a bustling walk-in humidor, bar, and lounge out of its headquarters in Easton, Pennsylvania. Since their warehouse is in the same building, Famous Smoke Shop has more inventory on-hand than any other B&M cigar store nationwide.

cigar advisor buying cigars online vs local cigar shop - famous smoke shop retail store
Famous Smoke Shop retail store in Easton, Pennsylvania

If you’re outside of reasonable driving distance to eastern PA, Google is going to be your best friend. Larger nearby cities and towns are likely where you’ll find a cigar shop, especially if you’re out in the boonies. Unfortunately, there are many places that don’t have access to local tobacco stores. For smokers in those areas, online is the only means of buying cigars.


What are the top-selling cigars in local shops?

In contrast to the online bestsellers, here are the top purchased cigars of 2022 at Famous Smoke Shop’s retail store.

  • Macanudo Cafe Prince of Wales
  • Drew Estate Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig
  • Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet Robusto (exclusive)
  • Arturo Fuente Famous Smoke Shop 80th Anniversary (exclusive)
  • Oliva Serie V 135th Anniversary.

Results from other stores may vary.


What are the differences between buying cigars online and buying them at the local cigar shop?

The primary differences between online and local cigar sales are price and inventory. Local cigar stores don’t have as much stock as their web-based counterparts. This leads to vastly different costs for both retailers and customers alike. On the other hand, websites don’t allow you to see and inspect cigars up close. You don’t smell the tobacco wafting through your screen. Let’s explore some pros and cons of buying cigars online vs. locally.


Things to Consider About Buying Cigars Online

cigar advisor buying cigars online vs local cigar shop - pilot smoking cigar and flyinf with computerPROS:

Low Cigar Prices – Online cigar retailers are buying boxes and bundles by the thousands, not a dozen or less. Purchasing so much comes with a discount that gets paid forward to the consumer. It’s the same reason (more or less) why items on Amazon are far less expensive than they are at a mom-and-pop retailer.

Wide Selection – Online sites carry cigar brands that local smoke shops can’t or won’t. Hundreds of cigar brands. Boutique brands, machine made cigars, harder-to-find limited edition blends. They may not sell as well or as often in a local shop, but online cigar sites can reach customers across the world where they’ll be purchased by a much larger group of smokers.

Convenience – Can you go to a B&M cigar store and shop in your underwear? I guess you could…but buying online is all about comfort. You don’t need to get in your car, sit in traffic, or dodge crowds. Additionally, you can shop online 24/7—a particularly handy benefit for our friends working the graveyard shift.

Sales & Coupons – While some B&M stores have regular coupon and discount offers, on average, you’ll find them far more often online. And that’s not even considering the lower base price we already mentioned above.


Shipping Costs – Somebody’s gotta pay the mailman, right? While there are sometimes free shipping offers from cigar sites, shipping costs are a point to consider, though some argue that their discounted prices negate the cost all together. We’ll let you be the judge.

Waiting – Shipping comes with waiting. A few days to a week or more depending on the shipping method you choose and congestion. Online purchases aren’t for those in need of instant gratification—at least until we invent teleportation.

AssistanceIf you’re online after business hours, there’s no one to help you choose the cigar that’s right for you. In a shop, help doesn’t require a phone call or an e-mail…it’s waiting just a few steps away at the counter.


Things to Consider About Buying Cigars in a Local Shop

cigar advisor buying cigars online vs local cigar shop - famous smoke shop retail store humidorPROS:

No Waiting – Who’s going to be tapping their foot impatiently by the mailbox? Not you.

Lounge AccessMany cigar shops have lounges on-site. There’s nothing quite like purchasing and then smoking your cigar in a comfy chair with like-minded company.

Customer Service – Not only are retail tobacconists more readily available than their phone-operator counterparts, but they tend to be more knowledgeable about tobacco and cigars in general.


Humidity is a Gamble – Humidor conditions vary greatly from shop to shop. I’ve been in some that keep their humidity levels perfect, along with stores that seem not to care at all. I’m not telling you to carry a hygrometer around with you, but be on the lookout for cigars that are too dry or too wet.

Selection – The biggest downside to buying cigars locally is a limited selection. Most shops typically carry best-selling name brands, a few boutiques, and maybe a handful of accessories—all in limited quantities.

Inconvenience – Long lines (depending on day/time/holidays), crowded stores. Not what we’d call fun.

Price – It’s not just the cigars that are more expensive. Some local tobacconists include a ‘cutting fee’ just to smoke in their establishment. Thankfully, it’s not always the case—and is usually waived if you buy something (which you should do anyway).

Smoke – I know. A weird con for a cigar shop. I’m talking about open air shops that have their cigars exposed to smoke from the cigars burning inside. Cellophane is porous and this will affect a cigar’s flavor over time. How much so is up for debate. If possible, only shop from cigar stores that keep their humidor and lounge in separate rooms.


Conclusion: Which is better? Buying Cigars Online or Locally?

cigar advisor buying cigars online vs local cigar shop - guy sitting at computer smoking cigarIs there a better place to buy from? That’s really up to you. There are positives and negatives to both and it all depends on what you need. Want cigars now? Head to the shop. Want them at the best price? Buy them online. Or you could do what I do. Buy from both depending on the circumstance. Hope you all found this helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Mike Tobin
8 years ago

Support your local B&M there’s nothing quite like browsing, bullshitting, and smoking. Even if it’s just one stick, everyone wins.

Craig Mandell
7 years ago

I agree also but when B&M stores charge more than double a wholesaler is a disgrace and I think insult to customer who knows the true box price.

Ryan Sabel
7 years ago

Craig Mandell would not be welcomed in my B and M store. Obviously you think every business must work like the Department of Transportation. A disgrace and an insult???? So let me get this straight, a B&M should just invest their money on inventory, property, and labor so you can be insulted because you want to pay the TRUE BOX PRICE??? WOW!!!

Jake Harbinger
5 years ago

I prefer weed. I throw out the tabacco cancer sh!t and pack it with OG stuff. Go green people

Dustin Gwin
5 years ago

I find the the prices equal out unless the online store offer free shipping. The B&M store I frequent actually has cheaper prices most cigars. I have yet to look at the price of boxes but I do plan on doing that one day.

Chad Boyle
3 years ago

A fair analysis coming from an online retailer. If you’re weighing online vs B&M I suggest you base your decision on how often you some. Once a week or more? Buy online. Once a month or less? Shop at your local store. Since I’ve increased smoking and figuring out which brands I like I’ve noticed that nearly every B&M is more expensive than online. The only exceptions are their flash sales, which are usually unknown or not-so-good cigars they’re just trying to get rid of (aka aren’t selling).

The benefits of B&M retailers though is that you know what you’re getting. My first (and last) time buying from JR I didn’t even receive my whole order. Customer service wasn’t good either, so I ended up filing a dispute with my credit card company. That doesn’t happen with a B&M because I’m picking out what I want in-person. But for a $4.50 cigar online I’ll be paying about $6 at my local B&M. If I’m smoking 1-2 per day that adds up.

Also consider shipping costs. Like many online retailers you can get free shipping, you just have to pay above a certain price. So if you’re buying online, do it when you need to stock up or have the cash to buy some premium smokes. Otherwise the shipping cost might completely offset the value you’d save in the first place.

Thanks for the info FS!

Gary Korb
3 years ago
Reply to  Chad Boyle

Thanks Chad. Well put.

3 years ago

Need feedback from Famous & a B/M. I was told by my local B/M that the cigars I buy online (no matter the brand name) are different than the same brand sold in my local B/M. He indicated to me that the cigars online are a cheaper version and quote “not the real thing”. Is there truth to this?

gary korb
3 years ago
Reply to  KEITH

Hi Keith. That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Do they really think the factories set aside more cheaply-made cigars for online merchants, and others for B&Ms? I think that salesperson may feel threatened by competition from online cigar stores, and that line may “scare” you into avoiding internet purchases so you’ll keep buying from them.Famous is a also a B&M store, and I can assure you that if such was true, we’d know it. Moreover, we wouldn’t stand for it. Be it online or in-store, the cigars made by the major brands, and certainly the boutique factories, which often have very limited production, are the real deal. G-~

3 years ago

I am at approximately 70/30 split … online vs B&M. At the rate I smoke (3-5 a day) good deals are a priority. The same $200 I spend at the B&M may get me 17-20 sticks while I can easily double that online. The key with online purchases, if you are a true aficionado you already know what you want, and more than likely you are purchasing from a reputable site that delivers great cigars ready to smoke. You have B&Ms that only stock what they like not what the customer likes, while others are willing to meet the needs of the customers. Got support the B&Ms but at the same time, this is not a game, so you have to make purchasing decisions that positively affect your cigar experience. Tread lightly.

Danny Anderson
8 months ago

In California my local B&Ms prices are 3 times what I’d pay online. Just cant compare to online price wise, shipping cost or not. However, the opportunity to smoke in a temperature controlled lounge would make it worth buying a few IMO.

Rev. bIGhIG
8 months ago

I’ve seldom had dried out boxes from B&M stores. I’m thinking mega-warehouses, handling and mail delivery results in more bum cigars.

Jared Gulick
8 months ago
Reply to  Rev. bIGhIG

Rev, thanks for reading!

Managing warehouse humidity has challenges of its own, but I’ve seen far more issues on the other side. Saw one shop that was humidifying their stock with spring water and another that had only humidified stock in their back room.

I’m certainly not saying it’s the norm, but my personal experience coupled with feedback I’ve gotten from smokers is weighted to B&M being less consistent.

Jared Gulick

Jared Gulick

Features Editor, Jared Gulick, is a Certified Tobacconist, nerd of all things science, musician and serial abuser of the Oxford comma. He made his way to the Famous Smoke Shop retail store in 2018 and joined the Advisors when it was discovered that he could locate the shift key. Prior to his work in the cigar industry, he was a recording studio engineer, songwriter, and a journalism major at Northampton Community College.

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