The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

February 10, 2013

If you smoke 'em he's got 'em

BEAVER — If you think that all you have to do to exude an air of class while smoking a cigar is inhale (which should not be done) and exhale, you are probably — by all accounts — wrong. Cigar smoking is a culture in itself, and in order to appear Cary Grant-like, you must know how to cut a cigar, light it and, finally, smoke it. And when purchasing a cigar, especially from a tobacco shop, there are certain things you should keep in mind: The length and diameter of the cigar is related to the intensity of the tobacco stick.

But, of course, everything really depends on the quality of the tobacco at hand.

Tobacco Town opened its doors in Beaver in July 1999 and owner Chase Boggs has adopted some impressive marketing plans for the store’s future. He recently installed a walk-in-size humidor that measures a roomy 9 by 11 feet. The humidor compartment is lined with Spanish cedar and features humidity control, maintaining a balmy 68-72 percent, and a mild temperature of 60-70 degrees F.

“The wood adds taste and flavor to the cigars,” Boggs explains, noting that local cigar enthusiasts now can obtain some of the world’s best quality tobacco products at the store, as well as advice on how to enjoy them.

“We already have special requests from our cigar customers. We deal directly with cigar manufacturers, and my customers know that I sell the top quality brands: Cohiva, Montecristo, Ashton, Alec Bradley, Macunudo, Partagus and Rocky Patel, one of the hottest cigar brands going at tobacco shops now.”

Boggs explains that the cigar industry currently is gearing itself up for the 26- to 46-year-old male. And during the past 14 years, Boggs already has built a reputation for delivering quality products when it comes to furnishing his patrons with the freshest and most flavorful tobacco. He says you’d have to travel to Charleston or Blacksburg, Va., to find a tobacco shop with a full-size humidor and more than 50 different kinds of cigars. He also says his hip cigars are advertised in national magazines.  

Representatives of Arturo Fuente, a company based in Miami, producing four different lines of cigars, will be on site at the tobacco shop in March to promote its tobacco products by giving away cigar samples and smoking with the customers.

“We’re going to bring in a couch and offer a cigar lounge for the night,” Boggs explains of the affair. “We’re going to make it a cool night for the guys who enjoy a good cigar.”

Cigars are made from different leaves of a tobacco plant to make up the three parts of its construction — binder, filler and wrapper. The climate in which cigars are made is tropical so it’s best to store cigars in a place that effectively mimics those levels of humidity and temperature, and a humidor is just the right place.

Top quality cigars are 90 percent hand rolled by individual craftsmen. If you’re not getting the flavor you want, then you’re not really smoking a real cigar, Boggs says.

Meanwhile, there are some 50 different brands and many different styles of regal cigars imported from Central and South America, including the Churchill, Rubusto, Torpedo, Mini Bellicco, and Lounsdale.

“If you’re a cigar connoisseur,” Boggs adds, “you want to get the same flavor and smoke the same style every day. Once you find a cigar you like to smoke, that is the one you are going to buy repeatedly.”

Boggs offers several promotional features designed to save his customers money. Some options for saving include purchasing 10 sticks and getting two sticks free. Customers who become members of the cigar club for an annual $20 fee get 20 percent off their purchases for that year.

Boggs notes that he has a list of loyal regulars who come in every day for their tobacco needs.

Cashiers are Cindy Dunkley and Martha Scarbrough, both of whom have been at the store for more than five years.

What makes for a good cigar? “They’re all about the tobacco they are rolled in,” Boggs says. “Quality cigars are aged 10 to 12 years. Some are cured for 15 years. That’s what gives them their unique flavor. The longer the tobacco cures the more flavors it has.”

Prices at the cigar shop range from $3 to $15 per stick. Boggs also sells boxes of cigars. “If customers buy a box, then they get a better deal,” he says.

What is the secret to operating a successful tobacco store in the Mountain State? “It’s all about customer service,” Boggs says. “We appreciate the customer who walks through the front door. We offer good prices and we have good people behind the counter to serve our clients. Providing a good price and a friendly place keeps customers coming back.”

Patrons come from as far away as Hinton, Princeton and Fayetteville to purchase their cigars at the store.

“Others come in here just to see our humidor,” he adds. “It’s the only one like it in southern West Virginia.”

How should one go about smoking a good cigar? First cut off the end or punch a hole in it (never bite it off as that only causes the cigar’s end to fray).

“You also do not want to put a good cigar out and relight it, or it will lose a lot of flavor,” Boggs says.

The best time for enjoying a good cigar? “Right after dinner is perhaps the best time. The tobacco brings a lot of different flavors to your mouth. Aficionados never smoke directly before a meal.”

The Tobacco Town location was formerly the home of the Rakes Hardware in Beaver, a popular family-owned business that once handled a complete line of products from appliances to construction materials, as well as feed and hardware items.

What does Boggs want his customers to remember about his business? “We are a one-stop tobacco shop,” he says. “If you can smoke it or chew it, Tobacco Town has got it.”

— E-mail: jabbb@suddenlink.net

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