Pivoting In The Pandemic: Loyal Customers Helped Keep Doral Cigar Shop In Business During Tough Pandemic Year

CBS4's Hank Tester has the story.

Video Transcript

- Now, more of our continuing series of reports on how pivoting in a pandemic can make all the difference for some businesses. Many of the small businesses getting by in these tough times are supported by loyal customers. As CBS 4's Hank Tester reports, that's been working out for a Doral cigar store.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

HANK TESTER: No pandemic can get in the way of a Miami tradition. Cuban coffee and a great cigar. An escape, some say, from the stress of the last 14 months.

JORGE VALDES: It relaxes you, it de-stresses you. It sort of takes you away from all the problems that we all encounter in life.

HANK TESTER: Sabor Havana Cigars dealt with the impact of the pandemic. City and county regulations, nonessential shutdown for a short spell, accepted the first round of payroll protection funds.

- You must wear a mask in order to enter the store, and you must maintain six feet of separation for social distancing.

HANK TESTER: Produced an online video to reassure attendees at a mid-pandemic lunch honoring first responders.

- --would stop and smoke with you here?

HANK TESTER: Keeping cigars in stock, a pandemic challenge. Worker shortages in the supply chain.

JORGE VALDES: There were times that there's some cigars that we regularly have lots of, that was tied up with shipments because they wouldn't be able to get into the United States and there were shortages.

- 157.

HANK TESTER: Combating the shortages, the folks at Sabor Havana stocked up when they could, buying in bulk when possible, and so did their regular customers.

JORGE VALDES: If they bought normally 10 cigars, they would buy a box. If they bought a box, they would buy two. Just because of the shipping and the availability issues.

HANK TESTER: And their big event, "Smoke This," postponed twice, rescheduled twice. Now on tap for December 4. And during the height of the pandemic, how else did they cope?

JORGE VALDES: Offer our customers private shopping, where they would come and they would be by themselves here, and be able to shop. We also offered curbside, we offered deliveries.

HANK TESTER: Making do and making it through. Another story of a small business meeting the challenge of COVID-19 economic impacts. I'm Hank Tester, CBS 4 News.