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FUMARE Cigar shops inventory up to snuff

With an eye to capturing business with affluent cigar smokers, Dion Giolito, who had worked in the industry in Reno for about 12 years, decided he would open his own cigar store and offer more high-end products.

The store, FUMARE, opened in 2004 in the Moana West Annex, just doors from popular stores including Josef's Vienna Bakery and around the corner from Ben's Fine Wine & Spirits, in a 1,500-square-foot store that includes a smoking lounge and a humidor for storing cigars at the proper temperature and humidity.

"I just saw this niche in the Reno market that nobody was filling," Giolito said. "There were customers with the wherewithal for the higher-end market. Products that you would find in cigar stores in the metropolitan cities. So, I made contact and procured some brands, and it's been working very well for us."

He said that there are a lot of small companies producing cigars that are fourth-generation operations. His cigar inventory comes from a variety of places.

"They are often small and family-run firms. You just establish relationships with them. It's not what you would probably envision as big business.

"People consider Cuban cigars to be the best," he said. "That can be true, but all Cuban cigars are not world-class. They make world-class cigars in the Dominican Republic. Nicaragua is one of the best growing regions for tobacco."

He said that the price for a cigar can run from $1 to $40, but typically, the sale price would be about $5 to $9 for one cigar.

Giolito initially promoted the store with television advertising, but then it segued into more word of mouth as people in Reno discovered FUMARE.

Giolito later became interested in developing his own cigar, and he traveled to Nicaragua to meet with growers and people in the industry he had learned of through liaisons in the United States.

After spending a year testing the ingredients for his cigar, called Illusione, he began marketing and promoting his product. The cigars, which sell for $5 to $15 depending upon the size, are marketed in 150 stores nationwide.

At a recent trade show where he was promoting the cigars, he was approached by Gregory Mottola, tasting coordinator for Cigar Aficionado Magazine who wanted to test and evaluate the cigars. In the Aug. 7, 2007, issue of Cigar Aficionado Magazine, Illusione cigars were given high ratings. Eight out of nine received a rating over 90, 100 being best.

He said that the tobacco in Illusione comes from Nicaragua, and they are made in Honduras.

David Hayden moved to Reno about five years ago. As a cigar smoker, he was happy to discover FUMARE.

"This is the best cigar store in Nevada," said Hayden, a cigar smoker for about 16 years.

"It's a fantastic store. Gives the cigar smoker the environment to sit down and enjoy and talk about cigars."

Giolito said that the cigar boom of the '90s is still a major factor in the industry. In the four years he has been in business, he has seen his bottom line grow. He described this past Christmas season as "brisk," but not quite as busy as in the past. He attributes that to the economy.

Source: Reno Gazette Journal