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An Interview with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo

Owner, El Credito Cigar Co., makers of La Gloria Cubana, La Hoja Selecta, El Rico Habano and Dos Gonzales cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 12)

Carrillo: I don't know, I try to keep the prices as low as possible. What I try to do is cut costs on my end. Of course, if it's a question of my costs going up tremendously, that's the only time I'll raise cigar prices. I have this philosophy that I make a good cigar, a quality cigar, at a price that most people can afford.

CA: What happens if hotels or restaurants, which are getting more and more into offering cigars, want to sell your cigar? Do you sell to hotels and restaurants?

Carrillo: We haven't. We sell mostly to retailers and to wholesalers.

CA: I've heard stories where a retailer, who is not one of your 178, will go into a store, buy five boxes at--I'm making up the number, but let's say, $80 for the box. Takes it to his store, marks it up to $150 or whatever, and sells it. So it's like a double markup because customers want your cigar.

Carrillo: That's one of the biggest problems I have. I mean, I have had a lot of problems during my years making cigars. But I find this to be one of the biggest problems, where you have people charging excessive amounts, especially when I am trying to sell the cigar as low as I can at a decent price. And we see that people are charging 12, 15, 20, 22 dollars for, let's say, a torpedo. It makes me sick. I don't think it's fair for the consumer, and I don't think consumers should pay this price unless it's priced that way originally.

CA: Is there any way to characterize the retailers who do get your cigars? Are they the old-line, top retailers?

Carrillo: Yes, places like Mike's in Miami, Holt's in Philadelphia, Arnold's in New York, Jack Schwartz in Chicago. They were the ones that started with us, and they're loyal to us and we're loyal to them.

CA: Your number two brand after La Gloria is El Rico Habano. Is that less expensive?

Carrillo: Yes.

CA: How much less? Ten, 20 percent?

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