TPE 2022 Recap - Tobacco Plus Expo In Las Vegas
The Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2022 has come and gone and our Owner, Nick G, was there to experience it all!
Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas from January 25th through January 28th, TPE was jam packed with plenty to see, plenty to smoke, and plenty of people to meet.
Might as well let the man himself tell you about it...enjoy!
What's up, Team Cigars! Nick G here.
This was my first TPE experience and I have to say that it for sure will not be the last. MMC was able to meet some amazing people that included manufacturers, brand owners, and some of the great people within the cigar media circle. I had plenty of conversations that I wish could have been had 2 years ago (goddamn COVID!) but the bottom line is, the conversations were had, relationships were started, and MMC is in prime position to take things to the next level.
I cannot wait to get started working with so many amazing people and bringing the members of MMC the best cigar club experience possible.
I guess the best way to recap TPE from my eyes is to break things down day by day. I hope you guys enjoy the recap!
If you want to LISTEN to me recap TPE, I sat down with Bishop & Gator from The Cigar Pulpit to talk about everything. This includes some behind the scenes stories that you won't read in this recap. Trust me, you're going to want to hear those!
You can listen to that episode and more of the The Cigar Pulpit, right here on the MMC site!
Click HERE to listen!
Now, on with the recap...
I arrived in Vegas the day before the show. I decided to fly in a little earlier in the day so I could beat the crowd and head over to the Sahara to pick up my credentials for the show. So I picked that up outside of the Casbar at the Sahara then proceeded to head on up to the bar to grab a drink and a cigar.
I found an open spot at the bar, sat down, ordered a drink, lit up an Umbagog from Steve Saka (Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust) and started to relax from what was already a long day.
If you see me at a bar and want to buy me a drink, Old Fashioned works.
Can't get in without credentials!
From there I started talking with the gentleman next to me who was also smoking a cigar (its a cigar bar, duh). Little did I know I would make a new friend! Yay! Friends! My new friend was Rob who goes by @cigaradventurer on Instagram (make sure you give him a follow). Couldn't have been a more laid back guy and we had great conversation. He knew about MMC (which was awesome) and he told me there was someone I had to meet and he would introduce me at the show (more on that later).
Me and Rob (@cigaradventurer) enjoying ourselves.
At one point I got up to use the restroom and I ran into Phil Zanghi from Indian Motorcycle Cigars. We had met back in October at Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire and had a great conversation there. Finished up at Casbar then headed back to grab a quick bite at my hotel. From there I was heading out to meet two guys I've been working with for almost 3 years but have never met in person before... Bishop & Gator from The Cigar Pulpit.
So I head on over to their hotel as Gator was playing some Ultimate Texas Hold'em and Bishop was sitting at the slots. I came around the corner and BOOM! Bishop was sitting right there in the flesh. We chatted for a bit then he brought me over to the table where Gator was and the meet up was finally complete.
Meeting The Bishop for the 1st time!
A little Ultimate Texas Hold'em with Gator!
Before heading to Vegas, I had told Gator I would sit with him and play some Ultimate Texas Hold'em. I've only played Texas Hold'em so this was new to me. I picked up after he gave me a few pointers and we were off and running. Up. Down. Up. Down. You know the drill.
After that I went off to my hotel and got a few hours of sleep before day 1 of the show.
Day 1 of The Show (Wednesday)
Before I even walked into the show, my experience started off great. I ran into a Hall Of Famer. Mr Ed Reed. I got to talk with Ed Reed multiple times throughout the week and he couldn't have been a more down to earth guy. Definitely not the same personality he had on the field. Anyway, we talked for a minute, got a photo, and I made my way into the show.
Ed Reed - NFL Hall of Famer - Baltimore Ravens
The first few hours of Day 1 of the show was basically a "get the lay of the land" sort of day. This being my first TPE, there was a lot to see and I had no idea where to start. So I started walking around to see who was there and figure out a game plan.
After a little while, I met up with Bishop & Gator and they said there was someone that wanted to meet me. So right away they introduced me to Micky Pegg from All Saints Cigars. Micky is 6 foot a million, a big dude. Anyway he wanted to know how to get his cigars into the MMC Box. First Ed Reed, now a manufacturer seeking me out...you can say things were happening quickly.
From there I ran into someone I've had conversations with on the phone and through social media. Jessica (@StogieChick on Instagram). She could not have been nicer and it was so great to finally meet her in person.
Jess - @StogieChick
Then, I ran into my new friend, Rob, and he immediately introduced me to the person he was telling me about... Paula, aka @Chix_N_Sticks on Instagram. We immediately got along well, had a great conversation, and our blunt, no bullshit personalities clicked right away. I hope I get to work with Paula in the future.
From there it was a bit more of scoping things out. Even though I was there as a buyer, my goal was to make some introductions, get some information, but to stay out of the way of sales being conducted.
Chix N Sticks (Gator with the photo bomb credit)
Bishop and Gator then introduced me to the crew from ATL Cigars. Again, someone I've had social media conversations with but was just now meeting in person for the first time. These guys were awesome. Their personalities were right up my alley so we all got along right away.
Throughout the rest of the day, I was able to meet more great people. I met with Tony and Sam from Crux Cigars, Dan and Donna from Cigar Oasis, and Justo Eiroa from JRE Tobacco (my man Trey Mac introduced me to him). Justo and I joked about how we are currently the two main sponsors for The Cigar Pulpit podcast (all in fun of course).
At one point I caught wind that there was a water jug in the media room. This is where podcasts could go and do some semi private recording and interviews. When I walked in, I immediately saw Cigar Talk Rob from The Cigar Talk Podcast who've I've been on multiple herfs with, including being on his show. Got to meet Rob and also the person he was interviewing, another person I've been on herfs with and his show in the past, Cigar Show Tim. Two great guys who are doing awesome things for the industry, I highly recommend checking out their shows.
At the end of day 1, I was walking with Bishop & Gator, and we had to stop by the Perdomo booth to see someone who has been very generous to us. Mr Dave Garofalo from Two Guys Smoke Shop and The Cigar Authority. Nick Perdomo was there as well of course and we all had a great conversation with a few laughs and for about 20 minutes, closing down the show with a photo opp.
Bishop - Nick G - Nick Perdomo - Dave Garofalo - Gator
From there day 1 was over and it was time to get ready for the Industry Party.
Industry Party (Wednesday Night)
Walked into the party not really sure what to expect. You'd have to see this in person to get the full effect but the wall inside the Casbar opened up and led to another bar which then led to the Sahara pool. Like a secret room, it was crazy.
The party was packed. I ran into a few people I had met earlier in the day, got myself a drink, then proceeded to head out to the pool where the party was. It was sponsored by Drew Estate and it was done up BIG. Plenty of cigars being handed out, plenty of great music (the band was awesome) and the food was phenomenal. It was actually the food from Bazaar Meat which is a steakhouse in the Sahara.
We ended up spending a good amount of time by the pool in one area (unless I was getting a drink) and that's where I met two people I've talked to for some time but never met... Al Roman and The Melissa from The Good Cigar Podcast. It was so good to finally meet them in person and we had a blast at the party.
I met a few other people at the party including Kevin "The Commish" who runs the New England Cigar Militia on Facebook. Kevin is a fellow Masshole like me so we got along just fine. I was also able to have a conversation and a few laughs with Ed Reed again. Would love to work with Ed in the future and the idea was tossed around so we'll see.
At the end of the party, before I took off, I decided to take a lap around to see if anyone was sticking around the bar. I ran into Leroy from ATL Cigars, but he wasn't staying long. So then I walk outside and run into Kevin (Commish) and Micky Pegg. I just wanted to stop and say hello, but then it turned into drinks and next thing you know I spent the next 3 hours at the bar with Micky. The man is awesome. He handed me a Dedicacion and I smoked it on the spot (fantastic smoke). Micky has some stories but I'm not putting them out here. Buy me a drink and a cigar one day and maybe I'll tell you....maybe...
Dedicacion given to my to try from Micky Pegg at All Saints Cigars
While at the bar, I also got to meet the Director of Operations for Blanco Cigars, Kelly. Extremely cool and great sense of humor. We talked a little shop, some MMC, some cigars, and she invited me to swing by their booth so she could introduce me to David Blanco, owner of Blanco Cigars.
After all was said and done, we all went our separate ways back to our hotels and crashed. At least I did. And that was Day 1.
Day 2 of the Show (Thursday)
Now that I had my feet wet, I was able to navigate the show floor much better than I did on day 1. I was able to meet with a bunch of great people, including another person I have had phone and social media conversations with in the past...Ashley aka BigAshesCigars on Instagram. Ashley was an absolute sweetheart. We chatted for awhile and she told me about her upcoming box she was putting out. I'm excited for her and hope it does well.
Ashley (aka @bigashescigars)
I'm not sure how it came up, but Amendola Cigars was mentioned. She asked if I had ever met Jeff, which I had not, so she said lets go bc she would introduce me. Sure enough we walked right over to the Amendola booth and she introduced me to Jeff Amendola.
Jeff and I connected right away. Turns out that we grew up in the same area of central Mass for awhile! Literally 20 mins from each other. Outside of that, Jeff was great to talk with and I'm sure we'll be working together in the future.
Later that day I stopped by the Blanco Cigars booth, met with Kelly, and she introduced me to David Blanco. David was awesome. Full of energy and extremely passionate about his line. We talked about working together in the future and he was kind enough to let me sample a few of his line. I had a Liga Exclusiva de Familia Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro and it was fantastic. They recently updated their bands and they're gorgeous. I'll definitely be in contact with David in the future.
The next person I met was someone else I got along with right away, Terrence Reilly from Aganorsa Leaf. Terrence is a fellow Masshole as well, and it turns out we were at the same college at the same time! We never ran into each other though, which is not surprising considering the school had 25,000+ students. We had a great conversation, he gave me a few cigars to sample, and I'm positive we'll be connecting to work together in the future.
I caught back up with the Pulpit boys and they introduced me to two more brand owners. Michael Herklots of Ferio Tego Cigars and Oscar Valladares. Two passionate brand owners that are doing great things and I can see MMC working with them in the future as well.
Quick side note about the Oscar booth...while there they showed us their new cigar boxes that to be honest, looked more like a fancy centerpiece than a cigar box. I cant describe it but it was amazing. When you see it, you'll know what I mean. Also while at Oscar's booth, we met his master blender. The man was smoking a cigar that had an ash 3 inches long and it wasn't moving. As we were talking, it turns out he was on his 9th cigar of the day. NINTH. It was about 4pm Vegas time! Now that's a champ.
After that I ran into Dave Garofalo again who was for once sitting alone (the man always has people around him). I asked him if anyone had presented Nick Perdomo with the Cigar Authority/Perdomo coin that was in The Cigar Authority Care Package.
The idea of the coin is that if you see Nick Perdomo anywhere you present the coin to him. If he does not have his coin on him, he buys you a cigar. If he does have is coin though, you need to buy a Perdomo cigar.
So Dave said he didn't think anyone had done this yet, so I decided since I had the coin on me, it was time to test it. Nick was in the middle of writing up orders so it had to wait. But once I saw the opening, I went over to him and said "Dave Garofalo wanted me to give you something." I put the coin down and he and his crew blew up in laughter. Turns out Nick did not have his coin. He said he had it on him on Day 1, so I guess I got lucky. His crew was loving it and they immediately got me a cigar. I stuck around for awhile and chatted with Nick for a bit as it was some down time, and as usual he was gracious with his time. I had to get a pic with him because I was the first to get him with the coin and he was more than happy to do so.
First to get him with the coin! Nick was a great sport about it.
Next I was able to finally meet in person, the man everyone knows as Boveda Rob, Rob Gagne from Boveda. We've had conversations in the past and he's done an MMC unboxing on his YouTube channel. Rob couldn't have been nicer. As we were talking I mentioned the Fah King Lounge Coffee. He stopped and said, "wait...YOU'RE Fah King Good Coffee? I've seen that and follow it!" That was pretty cool to hear. In fact, many people were asking about Fah King Good Coffee which was awesome. We talked a bit more, told him I'd get him some Lounge Coffee and he mentioned he'd love to feature it somehow. Hopefully we can do something there.
Day 2 had come to an end and to be honest, it was exhausting. Being on your feet all day on that cement floor (even tho it had apartment qualify carpet over it) was rough. I will say this, the Perdomo booth had by far the best flooring. It was so comfortable. I asked Nick about it and he said "yea, because I put padding there." All class all the time with this guy. Love it.
The Pulpit guys and I decided we would grab some dinner. We had an awesome meal and a real good time just hanging out with the 3 of us. Talking shop, talking future plans, talking goals, and everything in between. Plenty of laughs with those guys as always, and plenty of great things coming from us in the future!
After dinner, we decided to head over to their hotel and do a little gambling. I found us an Ultimate Texas Hold'em table and I sat down with Gator to play. We had a blast. Probably because we both won and were able to cash out after we finished.
After that, I said goodbye to the boys and headed back to my hotel to pack as I was leaving the next morning. If there's one thing I've learned in my years of going to Vegas, its that you can't stay too long, otherwise it becomes miserable. If you've never been to Vegas, a good rule of thumb is "72 hours on the ground". That means as soon as your flight touches down, the clock starts. After 72 hours you'll most likely want to get the hell out of there. My flight left at noon on Friday and I was back home Friday night.
All in all, an amazing and productive trip for me and for MMC. So many new relationships were started and old ones grew stronger. There were so many more people I met at the show and I apologize for not getting to them in this post. But they know who they are and it was a pleasure meeting each and every one of them.
I've always said, in my years of being involved in some sort of capacity in the cigar industry, from consumer to business owner, this is by far one of the best overall groups to be a part of. 98% of the people are awesome. The other 2%? F'em. Move on and work with the next person. There's too many positive hard working people in this industry that want to succeed and want to help others do the same, that you don't need to waste your time with the outliers.
I hope you enjoyed my recap. Like I said, there's more to my week with some great stories and behind the scenes stuff I didn't get into here. But you can hear some of that on the recap show I did with The Cigar Pulpit.
Thanks for reading this. I am so grateful to have had the most amazing members of MMC and I'm beyond excited for what I'm going to be able to bring to them in the future.
- Nick G
You can also check out the My Monthly Cigars Instagram Page to see more photos from the week!