Role of the Tobacconist
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
When we think about the brick-and-mortar shop, we often think about pipe tobacco, cigars, a few older folks playing cards or chess, and that wonderful aroma of tobacco from around the world. We first walk in and are immediately awed by how many different cigars and accessories are available. These tobaccos are blended to excite the senses and bring an experience unlike any other. But how do we know which is which? Enter the tobacconist.
It is widely accepted that someone who is around the cigar culture long enough and who works in a cigar shop is referred to as a Tobacconist. It starts out as a hobby, then a passion, and you’re invited to work at your favorite shop. You’re shown around, given a few details, and taught how to stock shelves and keep the shop clean. People now ask for your advice on cigars and related accessories, life is great! You are entrusted with bringing valuable information and motivation to the craft. But what if there’s more? Knowledge gained through experience is one thing, but there is education as well as certifications available. The question remains, what is a tobacconist? Maybe the better question is what should it be? The logical answer is a Swiss army knife. A good tobacconist should be knowledgeable in some way of the following, obviously the retail business, this allows him/her to see what product is moving, where to place the facings, and answer questions to the cigar reps as well as to differentiate one manufacturer from another. Agronomy, by having an intermediate knowledge base on plant varietals and where/how they’re grown, will allow the tobacconist to better explain notes and flavors. Cigar history, the tale of the cigar is a long and complex one, knowing the origins of the craft will allow the consumer to better appreciate the over 300 hands it took to make the artisan product. Lastly, and this one cannot be taught, is passion. The tobacconist must be passionate about the craft in order to excite new and old cigar smokers alike. This enthusiasm will instill confidence in a new smoker to follow your lead as well as the seasoned veteran to try a new product.
So, what is the role of the tobacconist? As a tobacconist, you are charged with being the starting point of knowledge, much like a librarian. You will welcome all into the cigar shop, present the consumer with valuable inquiries to better understand their palate, and suggest a product to take them on a journey of a lifetime. You will show the uninitiated how to cut, light, smoke, and store the products. Lastly, provide an experience of relaxation and confidence. Now that you understand what the role is, go to your local brick-and-mortar, ask questions and become better acquainted with the leaf. But be warned, not all tobacconists are created equal. Once you have found “the one”, prepare to have a friend and guide for years to come.