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Smoking on the Strip

Las Vegas's cigar culture is booming, much to the delight of retailers and smokers
Michael Moretti
From the Print Edition:
Vegas, Mar/Apr 2006

(continued from page 2)

"There isn't a brand you are going to go outside the hotel searching for," says Arcella. Although he can't carry everything, he offers most premium cigars and finds that many of his more expensive cigars sell best. "We really try to match the cigar to the consumer."

For many tourists, Vegas prices seem obscene. Yet, $25 Romeo y Julietas, $40 Fuente Fuente OpusXs and $30 Davidoff Millennium sticks are sold every day. Erin DeGloria, director of operations for Davidoff Las Vegas, says, "You pay $5 more for a steak here, too, then you would at home. It evens out." Arcella counts the high-priced Zino Platinum as one of his biggest sellers along with Davidoff Millennium, Padrñn Anniversary and the Fuente lines. Camacho and Rocky Patel cigars are among his best-selling smaller brands.

But in Vegas, consumers are usually willing to go that extra mile and indulge themselves. "People here tend to have more disposable income with them," said Arcella. "They are more willing to try a higher-end $20 to $25 cigar." Both he and Frey have stories that would make many retailers' mouths water. Once, Arcella had a customer in his mid-20s sporting jeans and a T-shirt who purchased a $40,000 lighter. Frey had a customer from Texas buy 10 boxes of Casa Fuente cigars from Casa Fuente at $500 a box.

While tourist dollars drive the cigar industry on the Strip, it's local residents who have been supporting an impressive number of new shops that have been servicing Vegas's residential boom of the last few years. Most of these cigar shops are located in the burgeoning suburbs where more than 5,000 new residents flock every month. Here, you will see Cigars emblazoned on strip malls next to supermarkets, dry cleaners and movie theaters. And they are selling premium smokes, not just newspapers and cigarettes.

Eileen Devito in the walk-in humidor at the Havana Cigar Co., located off the Strip.
Some places, like the Don Yeyo factory store, roll their own brand, which they supply to casinos. But more often, these stores cater to local customers who want numerous facings and the amenities to go with themówithout having to pay Strip prices.

 

Of course, you have to drive to these spots and know where you're going-not exactly the vacationer's forte. But some do make the effort. The Tobacco Leaf is about a 15-minute drive off Las Vegas Boulevard in Greenville Valley, one of the largest residential developments in the area. It carries 800 different facings and caters to local doctors and lawyers, as well as returning customers on business trips. "There is a lot of competition and we do the best we can," says owner Will Sabra, who also owns a shop on West Sahara, which he opened in 2000. "Customer service for us is gold." The store offers private humidors, high-end coffee and espresso, and a back room with a kitchenette, leather sofas and chairs, and flat-screen televisions.

Just off the Strip, in what is called the steak triangle (Del Frisco's, Ruth's Chris and Morton's are all here), is the Havana Cigar Co. It sits in a strip mall where owners Johnny and Eileen Devito have combined a cigar store with their retail wine shop next door. The walk-in humidor and wine cellar are under one roof and there is an intimate wine bar in the back where patrons can lounge and listen to music, happily drinking and smoking cigars.

No matter if you're in a local cigar shop off the Strip or in one of the many cigar boutiques found in casinos, one thing is certain: Las Vegas is a cigar city. So next time you're in town, enjoy a premium cigar, smoke it wherever you want to, and take comfort in the fact that cigar smoking and quality retailers aren't going away anytime soon.

Photos by Bill Milne


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