JR Cigars to Change Business Model.

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

jiminks

Preferred Member
Aug 31, 2012
32,881
391
I was in JR's today, and noticed how much emptier the place was. Now, I know why: http://www.thetimesnews.com/article/20150727/NEWS/150729030/15735/BUSINESS

 

shaintiques

Preferred Member
Jul 13, 2011
3,589
21
Georgia
Sounds like a good idea. The one I went to in NJ was awesome but seating was small compared to the volume of tobacco.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,244
1
What? No more closeout bath towels and talking Jesus velvet paintings? Why bother to stop in then?

 

ericthered

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2014
512
0
Suffolk, VA
JR Cigar is scouting locations throughout North Carolina to open similar-concept 6,000-square-foot stores.
There's an abandoned Lowes building in Suffolk, VA that should fit their criteria... it's only 30 minutes from North Carolina! C'mon JR, make me a happy Suffolkian!

 

okiescout

Preferred Member
Jan 27, 2013
1,530
0
It is great to see someone in the American business community today who is smart enough to see past political correctness and grasp the marketing opportunity that is presented, when so many others have hiked up their skirts and ran away.

I did not mention a well known drug store chain did I? 8)

 

rblood

Member
Mar 2, 2015
250
0
They closed their Statesville NC store back in Feb. I went over there a few weeks before it closed - got some great deals on tinned pipe tobacco that had been gathering dust (not many pipe smokers frequented that store).
They moved the Statesville tobacco portion just down the road to a new tobacco only store in Mooresville NC, although I have not been over there yet.
Only problem is I used to go over there with the wife and while she would look through all the "stuff" they had for sale I would slip into the lounge/humidor and have a smoke and a chat. With tobacco only it will be a hard sell to get the wife to stop in and look around now...

 

instymp

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2012
2,030
2
One thing thy need to do is fix their website for returned to customers. Like to buy cigars from them. They even lost my order history.

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,092
71
Maryland
Good move, it's not the mall...I go to the ones in NJ and they are adding needed additional seating.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,907
78
I think that this is a big risk, not because it isn't a good idea, but because JR doesn't have any experience in hosting this kind of clientele. They'll need a steady patron base of people who can relax and make conversation without getting intrusive with others. I don't know if off-the-highway locations are ideal for this, if there is enough sense of community and, frankly, accountability on the part of thirty or forty random people within driving distance, to chat, enjoy a smoke, and not try to preside over the room or push conversation when it isn't wanted. The level of social skills that's needed in this social atmosphere is pretty high. But I am ever hopeful, and will watch with considerable interest to see what they can do with this. I admit, I'll want to hear some reports before I drive forty minutes to try it out myself. People in big cities are pretty well socialized to limit and discipline their interactions, so they don't impose. Out in the county, this might or might not work.

 

carytobacco

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2012
302
0
Cary, NC
Agreed.
The existing locations in NC were put there years ago because of their proximity to the interstate, not because of the surrounding populations. They were drawing off interstate traffic, operating as a rest stop/bathroom break/circus flea mall. In addition to being a huge cigarette depot for northerners traveling south and back.
The corporation that owns them now, doesn't care about the relative chump change that comes from selling the other crap. But who wants to drive that far out of the way to hang out and smoke? JR offers good deals on bundles and their alternative cigars, but on regular cigars it's a pretty standard discount on most brands. And the crazy sampler deals they do online to get your email address don't show up in the stores.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,244
1
I've been to the Statesville store many times, en route to my in-laws in Carrboro, NC. I always dropped several hundred dollars there on cigars, and always perused the non-tobacco closeouts. It was a destination of sorts, but in reality, the vast majority of non-tobacco merch was crap. JR has extensive experience running a tobacco-only destination store with its New Jersey locations. These are comfortable, well run and attractive sites offering cigars, pipes and most importantly, food and drink. If anything, they are undersized. In changing their business model, they are lining up to go head-to-head with CI's retail model. How quickly they add locations will be the interesting factor.

 

catyrpelius

Member
Jul 9, 2014
214
2
New Jersey
I've spent a good bit of time in one of their New Jersey locations (Whippeny), it's always been enjoyable. They have recently expanded their lounge area and I've heard nothing but good things about it. If they could up their selection of food and beer I'd be even happier, but thats just me being picky.
There are a ton of places to go for bargin basement discount stuff, but not so many places to enjoy a pipe or cigar and a nice meal and drink. I think this change will serve them well.
It also appears their uping their internet presence as well, the number of emails I get from them has gone through the roof.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,244
1
I always felt that JR did a poor job of identifying and targeting customers. There wasn't a good link between online and in-store sales/customer contact. Online and in-store seemed to be two separate operations, despite the fact that the same customers often frequented both.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,907
78
Of course the past always seems better. I somewhat enjoyed the discount flea market mall surrounding the humidor cigar shop, and the discount Dunhill and tub tobaccos available in quantity. It was good to get an array of tins for pretty much low-end prices. My only complaint was that pipes were under glass, so in order to shop them, you had to solicit a salesperson to hang over you the whole time. I can spend weeks deciding a pipe, so that just didn't work for me, so I didn't look seriously at any pipes. The discount flea market mall always reminded me a little of the Third World, in a good way, like the outdoor markets in Mexico. A trip across the border for a forty minute drive. I was bothered a bit by a fellow tobacco shopper who persisted in lecturing on the tobaccos, not making conversation to find out what I knew, but just launching into lectures. The guy was either extremely lonely or maybe suffering from some kind of disorder, but I had to back off to end his lectures. That's what makes me wonder about a smoking lounge and how that would work. Can JR approximate the urbane balance of Nat Sherman in Manhattan, or the folksy community of my local Pipes by George where people often know each other, and they all know George? They're selling tobacco, but the sales floor is a social setting, and that can be tricky.

 

carytobacco

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2012
302
0
Cary, NC
It also appears their uping their internet presence as well, the number of emails I get from them has gone through the roof.
I had to unsubscribe last December. They do some kind of 12 days of Christmas deals. I was getting 3-4 emails a day.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,244
1
They purged me as an online customer when i didn't order over for a while. I was still making purchasing decisions over the 'net, but buying in the store.

 

carytobacco

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2012
302
0
Cary, NC
Interesting article about why JR started selling non-tobacco items:
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/02/business/a-tobacconist-s-sweet-scent.html

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,907
78
Retail fascinates me. I must have been a shop owner or trading post owner in an earlier life. I'm still not convinced by the current JR transition to cigar lounge (with pipe privileges) as a business plan, but it might evolve. One of my simple but effective tactics selling literary magazines on a university campus was to get the other students to take the magazine in hand. Not everyone bought one, not even half, but I sold a lot more than others who didn't encourage people to hold the item. Once you take something in hand, you can imagine owning it. So, JR, take that under consideration.