Cigar aficionados may enjoy lighting up a stick at the end of a long day. Bill Webb of Newtown is taking that idea further by firing up an online-only cigar store in the midst of a long career.
“I’ve been smoking cigars for a number of years,” Webb said, “and in August of 2018 I was looking for something to do differently, job-wise and career-wise.”
That career has included being president of independent management consulting firm Pegasys for 23 years — Pegasys owns the new venture, A-Listers Cigar Club — as well as stints in the aerospace industry via Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford and Butler Aerospace & Defense in Shelton.
Initially Webb conceived of A-Listers as both an online entity and a physical, destination cigar lounge, a la Big Buddha in Newtown, Havana on 25 in Monroe and Euphoria in Fairfield.
“The lounge was the first thing I pursued,” he recalled. “I wanted to see if I could do it by myself, without partners, but it ultimately didn’t pan out.”
Instead, Webb said, he had a eureka moment in October of last year.
“It hit me that, geez, I could just do cigars online as an alternative thing.”
The idea is to appeal to discerning smokers who don’t necessarily have the time to while away the hours in a lounge setting, he said.
Despite A-Listers Cigar Club’s name, it is not a “club” per se — though it does take an exclusivity approach to what it offers. Unlike other online outlets such as Cigar.com and Famous-Smoke.com, A-Listers features what it calls “a small, but high-end collection of name-brand cigars and a few boutique offerings.”
In fact, it has just six brands so far — Rocky Patel, Abel Expósito, Pura Soul, Oliva, A.J. Fernandez and Romeo y Julieta — which Webb said is very much by design.
“We started out small,” he said, noting that A-Listers’ website had a soft launch in July and a full rollout in August. “I want to take the time to do right by everybody and bring quality product and quality customer service. I’m picking the brands that I think best line up with the brands I already have. We will grow as we go along.”
Depending on the brand and style, prices for the cigars, which are guaranteed to arrive fresh, range from $3 for a single stick to $240 for a box of 20. Delivery is free for orders of $100 and all box purchasers receive an additional cigar at no charge.
One of his aims, Webb said, is to help customers make their way through the thicket of cigar brands, many of which have dozens of offerings of varying size, shape and style.
“One of the things that I truly enjoy about cigars has been understanding how they come into being,” he said. “They’re like a fine liquor — it takes time to make a really good, premium cigar. There’s a blending of all these flavors, each with their own characteristics, that are all natural with no chemicals added. And they’re hand-rolled, which is a skill set unto itself. It can take years before you even see them in a box.
“The pride and care that go into producing them — I consider them to be jewels,” he said. “And they’re a real pleasure to smoke.”