CONCORD, Calif. -- Beverages, & more! here has discovered there's nothing like a good cigar to boost wine and spirit sales.
The six-unit beverage superstore installed a service cigar counter in its Walnut Creek store in July as a test. More than 250 types of cigars, including Dunhill, Zino Davidoff and H. Upmann brands, are merchandised in electronically regulated glass humidor cases.
The department has not only proven to be a profitable operation on its own merit, but has substantially increased the sales of "suggested" cigar-accompanying wines and spirits that are cross-merchandised next to the cases, and has been well-received by the community.
Cigar sales have increased 20% each week since the department opened, with the counter now accounting for approximately 5% of the store's revenues. As a result, this month Beverages, & more! rolled out the departments to its remaining stores and will include them in its two new stores that are slated to open in November.
Steve Boone, chief executive officer, told SN the staffing of the cigar counter would be akin to that of a supermarket deli or fish counter. As a result, Beverages, & more! is still examining whether the counter has to be staffed during all store hours.
"We put cases of wines and spirits in our cigar department featuring a variety of ports, sherries, malt whiskeys. Sales of the items have been fabulous and have more than doubled since the department opened. And these are expensive products ranging from $13 or $14 on up to $100," he said.
Cigar prices range from under $1 for several brands to $8.58 for the 8-inch Jose Benito Magnum, and a 5% discount is offered for non-opened case sales.
"There are several different kinds of shoppers. Some want the best cigars money can buy, while others are looking for value and buy private label or seconds, but most of our business is from the $2 to $5 range," Boone said.
Although Beverages, & more! now sells cigars, the stores do not sell cigarettes and do not have any intention of stocking them, Boone said.