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Why always boxes? Why not bundles?
Q. I have a question about the cigar business that I’m hoping you’ll be kind enough to answer. Why do manufacturers not offer their premium cigars packaged in bundles? I would love to purchase a “box” of Rocky Patel Vintage 90’s or CAO Brazilia etc., without the box. I have a room that is slowly filling with empty cigar boxes that I can’t seem to throw away. They are made of wood with metal hinges and fancy decorations and it all seems like a lot of waste. I would wager that there are a lot of smokers who would be interested in premium cigars without the box.
I understand that the box is useful to dress up the product for retail store display, is durable for shipping and storage purposes, and is nice when you are giving cigars as a gift. But it seems to me that there may be an untapped market out there: the on-line premium cigar purchaser who just wants the sticks. I know that you offer 5-packs, but I would rather not pay a higher price than I would buying an entire box. Why can’t the manufacturers offer their premium product to major distributors packaged in bundle form? There would be less consumption of materials on their end and maybe even a savings in shipping cost. Throw in a discount to the consumer for buying without the box and it would be a winner!
I appreciate your thoughts.
Dave R. in Danbury, CT
A. This is an excellent question. One of the reasons cigar manufacturers present their cigars in boxes, in addition to better protection of their product, is to maintain the cedar aging room freshness in which the cigars are stored. Moreover, on the obvious side, the cigars look much more appealing to the eye when presented in neat rows, which also reflects on the quality and reputation of the manufacturer. Not all cigar smokers have humidors, so the box will often serve as the storage space. Additionally, some cigar smokers with very large humidors prefer to keep the cigars stored in their original factory boxes.
Every so often a retailer will get “boxed” cigars offered in a bundle selection. A good example of this were the Perdomo Cameroon Robustos that came out earlier this year. These were made due to an exceptionally large number of “loose stock” cigars. They sold out quickly, too. Maybe you were one of the buyers?
Bundles are generally reserved for “seconds” and overruns. That said, take a look at cigars like the Rocky Patel Factory Selects and Factory Seconds cigars. They’re basically the very same cigars as the boxed versions with, in most cases, imperceptible imperfections, and are sold at a considerably lower price, too. Note also that many bundles are firsts, and some are made by manufacturers like Oliva; Flor de Oliva cigars are a good example of a superior bundle cigar at a very low price point, as are La Floridita cigars, which are made by Plasencia.
By the way, all cigar boxes are made entirely by hand, like the cigars themselves, so if you’ve got a nice collection, hang on to them. Some are pieces of art unto themselves. You can always sell or give away the boxes you don’t want to craftspeople, elementary schools, etc.
I hope this addressed your question, but for now I think the manufacturers are going to be selling their cigars in boxes for a long time to come.
Finally, I heard from a reliable source that, due to an increase in deforestation in countries like Nicaragua, there is a prohibition on felling trees for box wood. If that’s true, some manufacturers may have to come up with alternate methods of packaging, so stay tuned.