Written by Puff Staff

Sunday, 09 June 2013

User Rating: / 6

bmbm etiquette

After reading our last few columns on advice for the new cigar smoker, even the greenest newbie now feels like a sophisticated cigar aficionado, but there’s one area where you can still reveal your naiveté—the B&M, or brick-and-mortar tobacco store.





Sure, you can get the cheapest prices on cigars, humidors and other smoking paraphernalia from online retailers, but there’s something special about finding a great B&M, one where the owner knows his stuff and the clientele is congenial.

If you’re ready to start checking out the brick-and-mortar shops in your area, you should be prepared for a few situations that may come up. While there are no hard and fast “rules” of B&M etiquette, there are things you should know that will make things more pleasant and less uncertain as you navigate your local tobacco shops. Most of these tips involve the Golden Rule—and plain old common sense.

The Walk-In Humidor

When you enter a well-stocked tobacco shop, your first impulse may be to stroll over to the walk-in humidor, go right in and start picking up the cigars to inspect them.



Not so fast! Different stores have different policies on the humidor in general as well as touching their cigars. Some strictly prohibit handing the merchandise until you’ve bought it. Others insist that an employee accompany all customers into the humidor to cut down on theft. You should always ask a clerk or the owner if it’s okay to go inside the humidor and check out the cigars.

Once you’ve become a regular customer and the owner knows you, he’ll probably let you browse the humidor on your own.

Where Not to Light Up

Another faux pas is lighting up in the humidor. While some B&M owners do permit this, it tends to interfere with the flavors of the cigars stored within, so it’s best not to do it without asking for permission. Would you want to shop in a humidor that smelled like the last guy who went in there? Some owners make their policy clear by posting a “No smoking in the humidor” sign outside, but don’t presume it’s OK to light up just because you don’t see a sign.



No Pictures, Please

Next, imagine you have a birthday coming up and you really want the wife to get you a nice pipe, humidor or other tobacco-related item. To help her buy just the one you want, you visit your local B&M and pull out your trusty smartphone.

After snapping photos of a couple of your favorite items, a clerk comes over and tells you that the store has a policy against taking pictures inside the store. What’s going on?

While it’s possible that the store’s owner is just paranoid, or that the shop is hangout for your town’s chapter of the Mafia, it’s more likely that the owner is trying to avoid the practice of “showrooming.”

“Showrooming” means shopping for items in a brick-and-mortar store, deciding on just the item you want, then leaving and buying it online, or at another retailer that’s selling the same thing at a lower price. Big box stores like Best Buy have major problems with “showrooming,” especially when it comes to pricey electronics items.

Maybe the shop’s owner wants to discourage lookie-loos, or just wants to preserve his privacy and that of his customers, but if this really bothers you, try shopping (and shooting) somewhere else—or calling ahead and asking for permission.

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