No dull moments for Neumann’s Cigars owners
Long Grove Sunday, 8/12/12 Julie and Ken Neumann own Neumann's Cigars and More in Long Grove. Neumann's and the Buffalo Grove police department hosted a car show Sunday as part of fund raiser for the Special Olympics. cred}
CIGARS AND CARS
Neumann’s Cigars & More, 445 Robert Coffin Road in Long Grove, hosted the “Cigars & Cars” fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Entering a vehicle into the car show cost $20, all of which goes to Special Olympics. The event also featured a silent auction and raffle.
The crowd picked the winning car.
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:41AM
Julie Neumann never thought that, in the course of selling cigars, she would have to worry about whether the mail arriving at her stores was really for her, nor did she ever think she would have to fly to the nation’s capital to defend her industry.
Nor did she expect to have a collection of classic cars filling up her parking lot. It has been an unusual — but enjoyable, she stressed — life in business for her and her husband Ken, owners of Neumann’s Cigars & More in Long Grove and Libertyville.
“We’re very fortunate,” she said Friday. “Both towns have been very supportive. Both mayors are very good for business.”
To share that fortune with others, Neumann’s worked with the Buffalo Grove Police Department on Sunday to hold a car show at their 445 Robert Parker Coffin Road location, the proceeds of which will benefit Special Olympics. Chief Steve Balinski said he met the Neumanns through a mutual friend and, after a discussion about how both enjoy serving their community, the idea of a fundraiser began.
Neumann’s and the BGPD first worked together a year ago, putting on a chili cookoff that also benefitted Special Olympics.
“We decided to try something different,” Balinski said Saturday of this year’s car show. “They’re good people.”
Of course, Neumann’s hasn’t always been “Neumann’s,” as Julie Neumann noted. When she and Ken opened their first store in Libertyville, they gave it a shorter name, and they always got their mail delivered properly.
The Neumanns’ first business was manufacturing golf clubs, Julie said; they visited plenty of showcases, and Ken would often smoke cigars. They noticed that many other golfers partook of the same pleasure, and Ken decided they ought to add onto the enterprise by wholesaling cigars.
Julie said she wanted to get into the retail side, though.
“We were able to find the perfect property,” she said, a freestanding building at 314 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville, and “Cigars & More” opened in 1998.
But they were not the only one — in the years that followed, “Cigars & More” became a popular title for a industry that was growing in its own popularity.
“We were getting confusion from our vendors,” Neumann said. “We would sometimes get products that were supposed to be mailed to another business with the same name.”
Thus, when they opened a second store in 2010 in Long Grove, they changed the name to the unique Neumann’s Cigars & Gifts. Both buildings contain walk-in humidors, and Julie Neumann can explain both the science and the art that goes into cigar storage.
“If it’s too humid, it’ll just burst apart if you smoke it,” she said. “The opposite will happen if you let it get too dry: it’ll just crumble.”
Thus, Neumann’s keeps its dozens of brands at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity. The delicate balance must be maintained, she said, to satisfy the typical cigar consumer’s delicate tastes.
“Most of our customers smoke maybe a couple cigars a week,” she said.
The hobby has gotten harder to maintain, she said, partly because of new legislation. On July 1, the state tax on wholesale cigar sales doubled from 18 to 36 percent, and Neumann said she worries about the Federal Drug Administration’s ruminations about increasing regulations.
“The future’s a little scary, mostly because of legislation,” she said. “It’s uncertain what they can do to us.”
She said they make trips to Washington, D.C., including the most recent trip in July, to lobby for their industry.
“It’s something we never expected to have to do,” she said. “But, we’re ready to fight for this.”
Last weekend, though, there was no fight and no worries … and no misplaced mail, either. Just a parking lot full of cars and a donation to a charitable cause.
“We always like to be able to help the communities that we’re in.”