Greeks Still Smoking, Cigars Holding Up
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua: these are the countries you would normally associate with the cigar business. But, Greece? Believe it or not, a market for local cigars is growing in Greece, and it's defying the global economic downturn.
Domenico Cigars is a small, two-room factory in Greece that sources its seeds from Cuba. It only puts out 70,000 sticks last year (a record). Instead of positioning the cigars as rare or limited editions, the company offers them at a reasonable $5 each, which is about half the price of the imported hand-rolled Cubans.
The group received little help from Cuba. Though they were able to tour the factories and plantations, nobody offered tips. They weren't allowed to take notes. So, developing an operation in Greece led to plenty of trial and error, with the actual rolling being the hardest part.
Despite the fact that the seeds are Cuban, the cigars are distinctly Greek, thanks to the local soil and the effort that resulted in the current product. The locals, it seems, remain committed.
[AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis]