HILAND’S CIGARS: A SHORT HISTORY
Everyone has their own version of the American dream. For Jerry and Gisela Hiland, it began in Germany in the 1950’s during Jerry’s stint in the US Army. On the corner of almost every German street he found a tobacco store. This inspired him with an idea. He decided to set up a tobacco enterprise of his own. Upon return to the USA with his new wife and two children, Jerry started his dream in a most unexpected place –working briefly for IBM.
It was in 1963 that Jerry took his chance and created Hiland’s Tobacco Locker in Ports of Call Village, located in San Pedro, California.
Highland’s Tobacco Locker looked nothing like the present retail location. It sold more pipe Tobacco than anything else. Rare quality turquoise jewelry and Native American art were the second-best sellers.
As far as pipe tobacco goes, Jerry, used his talents of blending tobaccos and created Black Gold. It is a blend of a full-bodied cavendish with rare green river burly. It became their best-selling blend and still is today 60 years later!
Back to the story. Hiland’s Tobacco Locker also sold cigars but not in the quantity of today. As far as cigar brands go Arturo Fuente were the highest selling.
As of today, Hiland’s is the oldest account on the west coast for Arturo Fuentes and JC Newman. Hiland’s has always sold the best. Just like today Romeo and Julieta, Montecristo, Arturo Fuentes, and JC Newman were also best sellers. Hiland’s did not carry the Padron line until the 1980’s.
Jerry and Gisela’s American dream continued. With the success of their Port of Call Village store they decided to stretch their legs by opening more establishments. Their second store opened in Westminster, California, just east of Huntington Beach. Later came stores in Ontario, Lancaster, PalmDale, Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Scottsdale, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada.
A NEW TREND
The Westminster store sales were much different from the one in Ports of Call Village. In Westminster tobacco sales outsold all other merchandise by a 2:1 margin! Jerry realized that he had found a niche in the California tobacco market. Being the savy businessman that he is, he capitalized on a unique opportunity. With the help from their son Scott, they expanded to the aforementioned locations. At one point Jerry opened 20 stores in three different states having more than 65 employees!
CIGAR BOOM OF THE 1990’s
The golden age of television took place from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. The golden age of cigars began in the 1990’s. A few things are responsible for the boom in cigar sales: The new Cigar Aficionado Magazine propelled tobacco sales to go through the roof. Consumers saw celebrities smoking premium cigars and they wanted a taste (pun intended) of the highlife themselves. Customers came into Hiland’s Tobacco Locker in droves looking for a box of cigars smoked by their favorite celebrities. It didn’t take long for cigars to become the number one seller at Hiland’s.
MAIL ORDER AND HILANDS.COM
Due to Arizona’s low tobacco friendly tax regulations, Arizona was the perfect spot to launch a mail order business. And so, the Cigar Manufactures Outlet of Scottsdale, Arizona began. This is where Scott Highland, the president of Hiland’s came into the picture. Scott, Jerry’s, and Gisela’s son worked with his father from the time he was 4 years-old! After graduating from Long Beach State, Scott went on to work fulltime for the Company. His first job was to get the Cigar Manufacturers Outlet up and running. The Outlet was set up to be entirely mail order for all the Hiland’s Tobacco Locker brands. Cigars, chew, pipe tobacco, pipes, Southwestern Art, jewelry were also sold. Even electric scooters!
Eventually the Outlet began to be referred to as just Hiland’s Cigars, becoming the first cigar-only location. But the true value of the Scottsdale, Arizona location was not realized until the early 2000’s. At this time California implemented a 50% tax on the wholesale price of premium cigars. Of course, that tax raised the prices on products and sales decreased. Sadly, the new tax was followed by a flooring tax. In other words, retailers were charged 50% of their premium cigar inventory at the end of the month. Jerry found that his art and gift sales were not enough to take up the slack of cigar sales. He is quoted as saying about the flooring tax: “I should have closed the stores that day.” Jerry and Gisela sold off their remaining stores in the early 2000’s and took a well-deserved retirement while Scott Hiland agreed to buy out the Scottsdale location.
Since then, mail order and online sales have steadily increased. As of now hilandscigars.com has overtaken walk-in and mail order sales. Our leading salesman is the computer! But you can still call us today at (800) 777-4854 and you will hear the friendly greeting:” Hiland’s!”
Our top-selling and highly recommended brands are Padron, Arturo Fuente, Oliva, La Flora Dominicana, Mataza, and JC Newman. These aren’t the only brands we carry. They are just a few of the over 1,000 brands we carry.
THE SCOTTSDALE LOCATION
When you come into our Scottsdale location you will be pleasantly greeted by the aroma of fine tobaccos and the rows and rows of fine cigars on display. This is just the first of the many sensations and tastes of fine cigars, chew, and pipe tobacco that Hiland’s has to offer you.
Hiland’s is a friendly place and an inviting one as well Come join us in the afternoon and meet friendly people who come together in our lounge to share conversation, companionship as well as a premium cigar.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HILAND’S
In 2023 Hiland’s Cigars has plans to build a 5,000 square foot cigar bar and distribution center. All are invited to stop by and excite your senses with a drink, a premium cigar, and fine comradery.