Empty Cigar Boxes, for Free
June 14, 2012 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find empty cigar boxes for FREE (or nearly free) in the Minneapolis, MN area?

I want to get into making 3-string cigar box guitars, but my goal is to do it as cheaply as possible. The only hang-up I have left is getting a good deal on the empty cigar boxes themselves.

All over the Internet, cigar box guitar makers say they get their empty cigar boxes for free from smoke shops, etc. I can't seem to find any smoke shops in the Minneapolis area which give away empty cigar boxes for free--the going rate seems to be $4.99 per empty box. I can't find anyone in my local area on the cigar box guitar forums; they only know where to get deals in their own neighborhoods.

Due to the extreme diversity on Ask, I am hoping that a few of you will know what I am talking about and can help out a bit.
posted by TinWhistle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you ask very nicely on a non-busy day, the places that advertise them for $4.99 might give them to you for free.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:54 PM on June 14, 2012

Where can I find empty cigar boxes for FREE (or nearly free) ... the going rate seems to be $4.99 per empty box.

That sounds nearly free to me, though $3 might be more reasonable, which is the going rate in DC.

The other option is to search for a "lot" of multiple cigar boxes on ebay, so your average cost per box will be as low as possible. Alternately, from the places charging $4.99 each, offer to buy several of them for $2/each.

The demand for empty cigar boxes is higher than the supply, so smoke shops generally see an incentive to manage this scarcity by charging a nominal amount for them. My favored shop for this donates the money it gets from cigar box sales to charity. They just want to control the supply so that one guy doesn't scoop all of them up at once, leaving none for anyone else, and then, quite possibly, turning around and reselling them for $3-$5/each.
posted by deanc at 1:57 PM on June 14, 2012

Seconding that you just might have to buddy up with the owner or manager and ask. I've been in and out of cigar stores for years and have never seen them in a pile for free, especially the nicer wooden ones.
posted by jquinby at 1:58 PM on June 14, 2012

The price for empty cigar boxes went up with cigar hobbyists started to make their own improvised humidors, such as coolidors (made from picnic coolers), any of which which benefit from being lined or filled with the Spanish Cedar from which cigar boxes are made. I doubt they sell out at $5/ box, though, except for especially novel boxes.

The good news is that there are lots of boutique cigar brands out there, so the box-trade should be expanding-- which is to say you should be able to get more interesting boxes than you might have 10 years ago.

I'll forward your question to a St. Paulite I know.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:58 PM on June 14, 2012

Check craigslist. A search on "cigar boxes" found many listings starting at 75 cents each [for a lot of 100 in Bloomington].
posted by chazlarson at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2012

Did you try Burn in Burnsville? They are about the friendliest people I have ever met in a retail environment.
posted by lstanley at 2:48 PM on June 14, 2012

Go to any of the Ax-Man locations in Minneapolis or St Paul and they will be able to tell you.
posted by cobain_angel at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you can work out a deal where they give you the cigar boxes for free, and then you sell the guitars in their store and they get a 10% cut.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 5:31 PM on June 14, 2012

A lot of the price difference may come from materials. Some cigars are sold in very nice cedar boxes, other boxes are made of basically paperboard. Before you buy a bunch, make sure what you're bidding on is what you really want.
posted by xedrik at 7:35 PM on June 14, 2012

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