When it comes to the cigar industry, Micky Pegg has done it all. After a brief hiatus, he launched his line in 2019. Pegg continues growing the All Saints Cigars brand with plans on expanding to the West Coast. Pegg talks with Cigar Life Guy about lounge culture, smoking with Kid Rock, and how the business evolved since he made cigar runs for senators.
Micky Pegg’s First Premium Smoke
Cigar Life Guy: Tell me about your first premium cigar experience.
Micky Pegg: One of my first memories was working for a senator on Capitol Hill. Back then, they didn’t have to pay interns. They would have you run errands, and when you ran errands, you got to keep the change because there weren’t Ubers. It was only taxis.
One senator sent me to Georgetown Cigars to fetch and bring cigars back. They liked a particular cigar, Juan Clemente; I don’t even know if they make them anymore. The cool thing was you got to keep the change because you had to jump in the cab, go to Georgetown, and come back. He always got an extra cigar, and I got to sit with the senator. It was like talking with the President of the United States at a pub- on speaker phone. It was pretty cool. So Juan Clemente and fetching cigars for a senator was my first experience. Then I started buying some of my cigars, and Georgetown Tobacco gave me a part-time job, which was awesome.
Micky Pegg: Life on Capitol Hill
Cigar Life Guy: You worked on Capitol Hill in college and made regular cigar runs to Georgetown Tobacco. You shared a cigar in the senator’s room. Who was the exciting person you smoked with?
Micky Pegg: Jeez, I’ve smoked with a lot of people. Interesting? I’ve been fortunate. Rock stars. Business moguls. The most interesting was Kid Rock. He has strong business acumen. It was in my old days at CAO. It was cool how much he loved cigars and how in tune he was with the business aspects of it.
And Hank Williams Jr. Those two guys know each other. And it’s the same thing. Hank Williams is like a big brother to Kid Rock. There were plenty of others, but those two because they were about cigar culture, the business side, and their smartness.
Launching a Cigar Line
Cigar Life Guy: You have said you enjoyed visiting retail shops as a sales rep. What makes a retail shop stand out?
Micky Pegg: I started working in a retail shop, then as a rep, and then as VP of sales at CAO. Now I own a company. I always loved it. I always say, “If you’ve only been to one retail shop, you’ve only been to one retail shop.” It’s a different culture, even for guys who own many shops under the same name. Every shop has its personality. I see the different personalities, talking to the people, enjoying a cigar, and creating ways to grow the business. Plus, all the banter. We all like the same things.
Cigar Life Guy: You have worked in various capacities for some premier cigar lines. What is different about launching your line?
Micky Pegg: A lot more work. A lot more on the table. You’re starting something and building a foundation. It’s completely different than taking something with a foundation and growing it (like I did before in the cigar world and the mutual fund world, where I was for a bit). So many critical little details need to get done, from keeping up with the tax situations in all the different states to ordering the inventory. All the other companies have specific people that did all these different practical things. Now it’s me and Frank Layo, my partner. He’s behind the scenes, and I’m more the “front of the house.” There’s a lot.
You’re always moving and working on things. That’s one of the reasons I keep going down to the factories as much as I do. You must stay on top of it to keep getting what we promise to deliver—everything from the packaging to the most important part, the cigar.
Micky Pegg on Cigar Lounge Culture
Cigar Life Guy: You have done it all in the cigar industry and have been in it on and off for a long time. How has the premium tobacco business evolved since you were in Washington?
Micky Pegg: The biggest thing is the lounge culture that has evolved with it. When I got in, most cigar shops were cigars, cash, and carry. Smoke shops were either cigar stores that sold pipes or pipe stores that sold cigars. And they were cash and carry. Very few people had lounges. In the last ten to twelve years, lounge culture has taken over.
And there are all different types of lounges. There are BYOB lounges. There are “on-premise” lounges, meaning they sell booze on-premise. Sometimes it’s just beer and wine. Sometimes it’s full service.
Then you have these smoking lounges that have a small humidor as an accent to the place. Then you have places that have larger humidors for full service. I’m trying to say that there are all different types of lounges, but everybody has a lounge component in their stores. That’s why you see so much on lounge etiquette. But it’s relatively new in the premium market. The lounge culture is relatively new if you go back to the boom chapter starting in the late 80s and early 90s. There were lounges out there, don’t get me wrong, but they were only here and there.
When I was in retail, if a guy had a lounge, the manufacturer or brand owner would not sell directly to that lounge. Instead, they had to buy it through a retailer, which would give them ten to fifteen percent off. So they had to rely on their liquor sales. But now that’s completely changed.
Growing the All Saints Cigars Line
Cigar Life Guy: What can we expect from All Saints Cigars in the future?
Micky Pegg: Growth! We’re working on it every day. Right now, I’m in the middle of a 25-day tour. We’re onboarding three new sales guys: one for Arizona, one for Southern California, and one for the DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) of Texas.
This year is our third year in the market, but the first year was COVID. So we had two years with an asterisk. The first year we had 40 accounts, and now we have over 300.
We have four lines on the market and need people to smoke our cigars. Since the media has done an excellent job of giving us exposure, it’s time to capture that. We have had a good online presence, though. In fact, we spent the last couple of years on the East Coast and are now expanding to the West Coast.
Cigar Life Guy: Have we missed anything? Please tell us anything else you’d like the cigar world to know.
Micky Pegg: This started with Frank Layo and me. We’re excited about what we’re doing. We are all in. I don’t have a Plan B. I put everything into this business, and we will make it work. We’re very proud of our relationship with Rocky Patel because we use his boutique cigar factory, Tavicusa. Working down there (Esteli, Nicaragua) with guys like Amilcar and Gerber, who run the factory, is a pleasure. We love the relationship we have with those guys.
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Photo credit: All Saints Cigars