For example, I’ve learned that by convenience store, what they really mean is place to get cigarettes and, on occasion, things you can get at a grocery store for much less. Seriously, more than 60% of my store’s internal revenue comes from tobacco products. That means that, in essence, 60% of my paycheck comes from me selling cancer sticks to people. I’m not really too surprised by this… after all, it’s a college town in Wyoming, meaning the population consists entirely of rednecks who are basically the target audience for the tobacco industry, because many of them probably can’t read the warning labels and honest to God think that a “light” cigarette is healthier for them (I kid you not, more than one person has said this to me), college students who figure that they should be spending their time now drinking and smoking because their idea of college has come from watching Van Wilder and Animal House (that, and because smoking, like, totally makes them look cool), and old people who have nothing better to buy than things that will put them in the grave just a little faster (I say they have nothing better to buy based on the fact there is a half an aisle dedicated to the Snuggie at the local Wal-Mart).
To comply with the high demand for tobacco, there is literally a wall full of it at the store, offering a wide variety of tobacco wrapped in paper with a filter. There is basically a cigarette for every kind of person imaginable. As I have noted from my long time here, different types of people are attracted to different kinds of cigarettes, with, in most cases (I’ll go ahead and say 4 out of every 5 cases), you can tell what kind of person someone is based on the pack that they buy:
The Hipster cigarette of choice! People who buy American Spirits fall into one of two categories: One, the kind of people who think that because American Spirits are, and I quote, “100% additive free natural tobacco”, that it means that it’s better than the “trash” those other simpletons buy (yes, a regular of mine did use the word “trash” to describe other brands). Two, the kind of people who think that because American Spirit is “natural”, and it has a pipe-smoking Indian as a mascot, it’s, like, totally less destructive on the environment, man! American Spirit cares about the earth, and poor small-time tobacco farmers! Not like those mainstream d-bags (these people fail to realize that, in truth, American Spirit is as widely distributed as brands like Marlboro, Camel and Newport, meaning it still causes plenty of damage to the earth in transportation alone). In either case, Hipsters like American Spirits. Rarely do I get a smoker who I don’t think I need to card who buys American Spirit.
Marlboro is somehow synonymous with cowboys and the west, most likely due to decades of really effective marketing on Phillip-Morris’ part. As such, I sell waaaaaaaaaay more Marlboros than any other brand here in Wyoming. People who buy Marlboros are hard to generalize, since we offer 30+ different types of Marlboro at our little store. That being said, there are certain types of Marlboro that are favored by certain types of people. For instance, Marlboro Blend 27s seem to be favorited by the painfully redneck Tech-ers (for those of you who don't know what a Tech-er is, they are kids who attend the Wyoming Technical School... and they are almost always kids who weren't smart enough to get into any other school ever), probably because they’re brown and look like leather, meaning they’re a manly cigarette! Marlboro Menthol Smooths are the female equivalent, favorite by the few girl Tech-ers. Old, redneck men almost always buy standard Marlboros, annoyingly assuming they’re the only cigarette we sell, often asking for “a pack of smokes” or “a pack of Reds” and assuming I’ll know they mean Marlboro. This in spite of the fact that we have Marlboro Reds, Marlboro Red Pack (which is different… somehow), Camel Reds, Winston Reds, American Spirit Red Pack, Sonoma Reds, and I think you get the picture. While many people buy Marlboros, it is safe to say that if a redneck of any breed or age walks through those doors, they’re going to want Marlboros. Cause they’re the cowboy smokes, and this is Wyomin’ damnit!
This is the second brand that is really kept on the shelves because of college students. Newports are somehow the “classy” but still non-pretentious brand of cigarettes (Benson & Hedges being the classy and pretentious brand), for those young-uns who still think that their habit is worth $6.50 a pack for some reason (in Wyoming, between $5 and $5.50 is about average price for cigarettes). To be honest, I didn’t even like Newports when I tried them, and thought the Marlboro Menthols made me gag less… but I’m no smoker, so what the hell do I know, right? They cost more, therefore they MUST be better! Makes sense to me. And when you’re a college student, trying to look cool, you want an expensive cigarette that doesn’t make you look like a stuck-up snob but is also menthol so you can smoke it without coughing like the poser you are.
Like Marlboros, there are just so many kinds of Camel offered that it’s hard to generalize customers of the brand as a whole with about 20 different kinds of Camels available. As for the individual types of Camels, well, you have Camel Crush and Camel No. 9, both of which are bought almost exclusively by effeminate men and roughly equally effeminate women. You have your Camel Wides, targeted at people who want to smoke two cigarettes at once but are too lazy to light two cigarettes or to roll their own. The solution? BIGGER CIGARETTES, for twice the price! Interestingly, a lot of fat people buy Wides… oh the irony in that. A few acting majors I know personally who regular the store buy Camel Reds… and they’re literally the ONLY PEOPLE who buy them. Not really sure why. And finally, there are the filter-less Camels, which, as far as I can tell, are only bought by hard-asses who like to tempt death and then punch him in his stupid deathly FACE.
I don’t sell too many of these, and when I do, it’s to old people who make one of two assumptions about them. Some are like the Hipsters who like American Spirit and think that “organic tobacco” makes a better cigarette… though it just makes me curious what inorganic tobacco is like. Others are strange, confused old people who assume that because they’re called “Basic”, they’re the cheapest cigarettes. They are not.
These are cheapest cigarettes we sell. Understandably, the only people who buy them are usually the same people buying chips and soda with their food stamps, then throwing together change to buy cigarettes while complaining under their breath that their food stamps won’t cover them or energy drinks anymore (talk about unreasonable, right?). Seriously, anyone who has kids and uses their food stamps on junk food should be required to get a tattoo on their forehead that reads “I'm a terrible person”, but that’s getting off topic (I think I'd be more okay with them buying gourmet food on their food stamps, see the correlating post below). No one really enjoys Sonoma. They’re the Keystone of cigarettes… they’ll help you get your fix cheaply, but at what greater cost?
Benson & Hedges:
Only one kind of person buys these, and that person is the kind of massive pretentious prick who thinks he’s better than everyone else because he buys a $9 pack of cigarettes. Actually, only one person on my shift buys them, and I hate him (see the above reason). He comes in once or twice a week, and I still don’t know his name, so let’s just call him Claude. Seriously Claude, no one thinks you’re cool for buying the most expensive cigarettes we sell, dude. Also, loose the pedo-stache.