The new Davidoff of Geneva Since 1911 flagship store opening in Houston later this year is a welcome addition to our city’s cigar community.

I for one am excited about the opportunity to enjoy a cigar in the posh surroundings of the new River Oak’s premium multi-use center that will feature many of the world’s uber-luxury brands in one location. It was only a matter of time before Houston became home to ultra-premium outlets and restaurants that are present in every great economic city around the world.

However, if you live in Houston then you have inevitably heard some of the grumbling about the proximity of Davidoff’s new shop to Serious Cigars on Richmond and Cigar Vault in Uptown Park.

Back to Davidoff and it’s soon to be neighbors… 

The video below was taken at the site of the new multi-use center in the River Oaks District. Although you can’t quite see the physical location of the lounge, you can get a good idea of where it is and what the overall area will ultimately look like:

Once opened, Serious Cigars will only be .4 miles away and Cigar Vault 1.4 miles away. If you reference the map above, you can see Hotel Derek. I used the landmark hotel as the marker for the location of Davidoff’s new store as it will be located directly across the street from Hotel Derek.

The entire shopping area will end where Seasons 52 is, just East of Kettering Street.

I have spent some time in both Serious and Cigar Vault recently to determine how their business might be impacted by their new neighbor.

Between the two, I feel Cigar Vault is the most vulnerable to the new competition. Serious Cigars has a very large humidor which cannot be duplicated in the soon to open 2,000 sq. ft. Davidoff shop. So just on selection alone, people will still come to Serious Cigars to pick up sticks they otherwise won’t find down the street.

Ron Lasseraux, owner of Serious Cigars; also has two other large stores and a booming online business that rivals all the other major players in the digital commerce of cigars.

Even if sales dip slightly at his Galleria location, Serious Cigars as a whole will easily absorb the hit.

Cigar Vault on the other hand, has a much smaller humidor with a limited selection and only one store with no online sales that I know of. They feature a lot of Arturo Fuente, La Flor Dominicana, Oliva, Rocky Patel and some Padron’s; beyond that selection they offer a few boutique brands.

They also cater to a similar demographic that Davidoff will ultimately draw in, the affluent Galleria area cigar enthusiast looking for a chic, classy and upscale environment to enjoy cigars and host associates, etc…

Davidoff’s new shop will offer a new and improved alternative for Cigar Vault’s clientele as well as the added prestige of enjoying a cigar surrounded by its luxurious neighbors.

Q & A with Davidoff:

I reached out to Davidoff to share this feedback and get their thoughts regarding the whispers among Houston’s cigar community. Richard Krutick, Director of Marketing for Davidoff was very forthcoming with his company’s interest to harmoniously gel into the existing cigar infrastructure in Houston, here is what he had to say…

Regarding Proximity to Cigar Vault and Serious Cigars:

“While we are very excited to establish a luxurious Davidoff retail store in Houston, we remain highly committed to continue to grow the overall business in the Greater Houston area. We firmly believe the Houston market represents an outstanding opportunity for premium cigars and the new destination will play an important role in attracting new consumers into the category as well as provide a very premium environment to explore the world of Davidoff.

We highly value our business relationship with our local retailers and will continue to do everything we can to help Houston retailers by bringing creative programs, strong brands, and new products to market all supported by substantial investment. We are confident that our partnership can and will help Houston retailers grow their businesses for many years to come.”

Regarding Selling Cuban Cigars in the Future:

“We do not know when Cuban cigars will be sold again in the US. But we welcome the developments announced late December regarding starting down the road to normalizing the relations between the Cuba and the US. The US is Oettinger Davidoff’s biggest market and also the biggest market for premium cigars worldwide. This development clearly heralds a new era for the cigar market mainly in the US with the eventual lifting of the embargo.

This will provide a real “boost” to the premium cigar market which we find exciting. Oettinger Davidoff is a global player in premium cigars, and we are already very familiar with Cuban cigars. Our “Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911” retail platform, our Davidoff Flagship Stores, as well as our other cigar stores outside the US already carry Cuban cigars. They will now become a true global destination where adult consumers can find the finest cigars, including Cuban cigars and our own brands, notably our flagship brand, Davidoff. Therefore, we see the finest Cuban cigars as a very good fit within our stores when they do arrive.”

Regarding Choosing River Oaks vs. The Woodlands or Other Affluent Houston Areas: 

“The New River Oaks Shopping district is a place for boutique outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment with an international allure. Davidoff of Geneva since 1911 will be surrounded by upscale dining and be adjacent to some of the worlds leading luxury brands.”

With the fall of Downing Street, we saw first hand how change can swiftly impact a business in our cigar community. Houston is unique in that our cigar shop owners cooperate and collaborate with each other a lot more than most other major cigar markets. There is a sense of collective pride, ownership and familial bond between all the shop owners.

Whether Davidoff joins the Houston cigar community or it chooses to operate outside the fraternity we have built is still to be determined. If my conversations with Richard are any clue into their intentions, I think they are interested in expanding not only their brand, but also adding to the overall premium cigar market in Houston.

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