Retailer Review: Stogie Boys
Stogie Boys is an online retailer based out of Pennsylvania that claims to be “America’s finest cigar shop” – a pretty bold claim considering the plethora of other online retailers on the market! According to their website, Stogie Boys was founded by two cigar enthusiasts to cater to the needs of cigar smokers from the novice to the aficionados – and part of their mission is to contribute to the resurgence of the premium cigar industry.
While we applaud the enthusiasm which Stogie Boys provides, lets take a look at our experience over the last couple of years with Stogie Boys and how they stack up to the rest of the retailers.
The Stogie Boys website is honestly a little dated – our research shows that the software powering the Stogie Boys website is Magento and considering that the founders of Cigar Informer come from a web development background, we know that Magento, as with all eCommerce platforms have the ability to support some pretty stunning designs. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Stogie Boys – the website design and feel has the feel of something that we would have expected from a mid-2000’s website.
Our other issues with the Stogie Boys website is the small links and text of the website. Trying to navigate the site and read the material can be challenging at times, especially if you are using a mobile device. Additionally, while the site claims to be in the business of providing support to novice smokers and to help with the resurgence of the cigar industry, we are surprised to find that the blog is empty, there are no tips or information articles, and the RSS feed link opens to a 403 Forbidden page.
Bottom line on the Stogie Boys website is that if you’re expecting a modern, beautiful feature and content rich site then you’re going to be left wanting for more. It is in our opinion that if Stogie Boys wants to compete with the other major names on the market then they should invest in some talented designers to revamp their website design, and they should put some focus on development of original content for their blog or remove it from their site completely. We could go into all the fine technical details of why having a clean modern design and quality content is important for a website, but that’s another business entirely.
Website Score: 2/5 Stars
While the Stogie Boys website might not be all that it can be, we are surprised that for a smaller company they actually have a pretty impressive selection of cigars. From major premium brands to brands we have never heard of before finding Stogie Boys (try the Riot, we will be reviewing it soon!). Stogie Boys has a product listing which would be suitable for any cigar smoker – and while they might not have the newest items on the market, they have an extensive collection of the tried and true classics.
Now, whether they will actually have the items listed on the site in stock or not is another question. There have been many times that we have seen a cigar on the website, only to see that is out of stock. For us, there is nothing more annoying than finding an item we want, only to see that you don’t actually have it – if it’s out of stock then don’t display it – or at the very least allow for filtering search results for only in stock items!
In addition to a pretty nice selection of cigars, Stogie Boys also has one of the best cost to value monthly cigar clubs that we have found to date (we’ve been members of, well, quite a few) – now the name could use some revamping (The Big Sexy?), but the value of the club is superb. Now, with the Stogie Boys monthly cigar club isn’t a large monthly shipment – matter of fact, for the last two years we have been a member of the cigar club, and at only $10 per month with no shipping charges, we have received at least two cigars per month, with a value exceeding the monthly cost – especially considering the monthly cost covers shipping as well.
Another value-added bonus of Stogie Boys is that with every order on the website, they send you a free cigar – now we have bought cigars from nearly every major online retailer, and none of them have ever kicked in free cigars without a “qualifying order” – so kudos to Stogie Boys for such an amazing gesture to your customers!
With the exception of not being able to find the hottest new brands, and for having to put up with out of stock issues on the website, we are pretty impressed with the Stogie Boys selection and would encourage everyone to check them out.
Cigar Selection Score: 4/5 Stars
Another surprise to us, considering Stogie Boys is a smaller fish in the proverbial online pond, is that their pricing is very reasonable and even competitive with the big fish! We have shopped with other small company sites and were blown away by the high prices and just moved on to another site – but with Stogie Boys you don’t feel like they’re trying to gouge you. They are a little pricier than some of the major retailers, and when it comes to in house and exclusive brands it feels like they are trying to impose premium national brand prices on items that most smokers never would have heard of before.
Another bonus of becoming a member of the Stogie Boys cigar club is that you actually get a 5% discount on all website orders and free regular shipping – whether you order a single stick, or five boxes. Additionally, even if you aren’t a member of the cigar club, they are very reasonable on the shipping charges as well – and they have a standing offer of free shipping on all orders over $50 anyway (again, no qualifying items to purchase or any of that junk from the major retailers), so if you buy a box of cigars, you’re likely to not be paying for shipping anyway.
Pricing Score: 4/5 Stars
Shipping and Cigar Condition
Stogie Boys ships fast – we have never waited more than 48 hours between ordering cigars and receiving a shipping confirmation email – which is amazing considering some retailers will take several days just to “process” your order.
Now when it comes to shipping, this is our biggest complaint with Stogie Boys – most purchases are shipped in standard bubble wrap envelopes – now this could cause some problems with receiving cigars in pristine condition, or accessories for that matter. Case in point – we received a shipment which had a total of 22 cigars and a lighter, and because of the items being in a bubble wrap envelope, some of the cigars had minor damage on the foot, one was squished pretty bad, and the lighter cap had broken off during shipping.
We have been ordering online for years (since about 2004’ish) and Stogie Boys is the only retailer we have ever had that shipped us cigars in a padded envelope – now I don’t know how many return cases they have to deal with on a monthly basis, or complaints about damaged cigars or merchandise, but I think it would go a long way for their reputation to start investing a little into providing some protection for cigars during shipment.
Shipping & Condition Score: 2.5/5 Stars
We have only had to contact Stogie Boys on two occasions about our orders, and we can say that they are on point when it comes to customer satisfaction. Both times we emailed the company using their online chat application, and in both instances, we heard back from them within 30 minutes (both times were during business hours) – and one time we even received a call to address the issue!
We have communicated with the company on a few other occasions with general questions, and communication from the company is great – they are fast with email notifications and fast to reply to your questions. This is a real asset to Stogie Boys because we believe that giving attention to the customers which support your business is pretty darn important, and Stogie Boys aces the score in this aspect.
Customer Service Score: 5/5 Stars
Overall, we personally believe that Stogie Boys is a pretty good place to shop with – they have a decent selection of cigars, their prices are very competitive, their customer service is an example to other online retailers and their value-added services really make them a staple in my online purchasing choices. Now if they could improve their shipping practices, through a little effort into modernizing their website, and possibly start getting some new release cigars in their inventory, I think Stogie Boys would be a top pick for any smoker.