SS December 2015

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December 2015 SMOKESHOP 31 S pecialty tobacco retailers must put into play a number of business practices rivaling those of any oth- er successful service and supply indus- try. Familiarity with, if not mastery of, the influence of key variables including location, demographics, local industries, and customer buying trends is essential. For specialty tobacco retailers in par- ticular, one must also juggle ever-evolv- ing tobacco legislation, tax amendments, and inventory control of a fragile and perishable product. Deadwood Tobacco Company owner Vaughn Boyd has a unique set of circum- stances at her retail tobacco business in Deadwood, S.D.—population 1,300— in the heart of South Dakota's Black Hills. For a gold rush-era town whose fortunes had surged for decades but had severely dwindled by the 1980s when it became only the third city in the nation to le- galize gambling alongside Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Deadwood's rebirth as a popular tourist destination in a region of scenic tourism has been nothing short of amazing. Only 13 miles to the east, the nearby town of Sturgis, population 6,600, also happens to host one of motorcy- cling's longest-running rallies, injecting a shot of summertime population adren- aline into the region. Boyd's calculations of a 'viable' cus- tomer base could give even an Ivy League mathematician an afternoon's exercise in assessing variations of customer traffic flow rates and patterns. "We look at a local population of around 30,000 [people] within a 20 mile radius of our shop," she offered during a visit by Smokeshop magazine on the eve of town's largest tourist event of the year. "This year, due to the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Rally, estimates are run- ning as high as 1.3 million attendees this year," she continued. That's more than 40 times the store's normal customer traffic base, with all of those potential custom- ers making their presence felt over the span of a week in early August. Having been established at her Dead- wood location for 10 years, Boyd is hard- ly a stranger to the added demands that come with each Sturgis Rally. "We've seen numbers increasing from 300,000 [participants] to 600,000 during those years and have learned to be as prepared as possible," Boyd explains. "There's been great support from all our staff, and our regular customers know and understand that we want to help in any way possible," she says when questioned about foot traffic at the store once visitors flood the town sur- rounding the rally. Deadwood Tobacco's Main Street cor- ner location not only offers a well-stocked walk-in humidor that takes pride of place, but also a full service bar, and live music at night by the house band of five years, the Brandon Sprague Blues Band. Deadwood Tobacco Company It's Still Wild in the West Few tobacco shops ever experience the customer surge, logistical challenges, or adrenaline rush that Deadwood Tobacco Company faces each August during the Sturgis Rally, but store owner Vaughan Boyd gets a little help from her customers and industry friends to weather the customer surge. BY RON 'DOC' MALTIN > Left: Not entirely unlike the famed Boston watering hole "Cheers," Deadwood Tobacco Company is a cozy, subterranean retreat. Above: Store owner Vaughn Boyd.

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