New cigar shop in Chadds Ford

While tobacco use has lost its social sheen over the years, there are still those who savor the aroma and taste of a good cigar. And cigar aficionados now have a place in Chadds Ford to enjoy that cheroot or stogie or whatever type of cigar they choose.

The store is Living My Best Cigar Life. Cigar Life is in the shopping center with Pescatores on Route 202 across from David Dodge. Gregg Fornario is one of the owners. He and his partner own another Cigar Life shop in Kennett Square, and the goal is to open “a handful” of them, he said. A lot of his customers in Kennett are from the Chadds Ford area.

He’s emphatic about what his shop is and what it’s not.

“If you sell cigarettes and lottery tickets, you’re not an upscale cigar store. That’s just a tobacco store,” he said. “It’s a different clientele that goes to those stores. People come here for fine cigars.”

But what is it that makes a fine cigar?

According to Fornario, fine cigars are not domestic. Instead, the good ones are imported. While Cuban cigars are still not allowed, Fornario said the other upscale cigars they’re allowed to sell come in from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

“And they are upscale, premium cigars,” he said

Fornario acknowledges that tobacco use isn’t as well-received publicly as it once was because of health issues surrounding tobacco use, but the aura and allure of the cigar remains. He said it’s about relaxation and “me time.” He makes a distinction between cigarettes and cigars. With cigarettes, you take a quick smoke break, then go back to work, not so with cigars.

“The whole setting is about relaxation. It’s not for a quick nicotine fix. You’re not going outside, smoke a quick cigar, and then put it down. You have to give yourself time to smoke a cigar. You can take the time in our lounge and enjoy the atmosphere we have here and enjoy good conversation while smoking a fine cigar. And it does take time to smoke that good cigar.”

And it’s not just for men anymore. Fornario said women are joining in. He said the trade magazines say that women are rapidly entering the ranks of cigar smokers and that his shops have about 10 percent women customers and members.

Fornario has some tips for those interested in cigars but don’t know where to start. He said to start with a light cigar, one with a light-colored leaf, called a Connecticut leaf. The darker the leaf, the stronger the flavor and possible effects. He said even he gets a little lightheaded when smoking a dark cigar, like a Maduro.

The Chadds Ford Shop has been open for a month, and it already has a following. Down a short hallway from the main counter are two walk-in humidors with 400 boxes of cigars and, beyond that is the lounge with a pool table, leather seats, and three large-screen televisions where customers and members can take time to enjoy their smoke.

There are three levels of membership, he said. At $500 per year, Platinum membership gets a member a locker for their cigars, 10 percent off boxes of cigars, accessories, and 24-hour access to the lounge. At $350 per year, Gold members get most of the above but not a locker. And silver members, paying $200 per year, get the discount but no lounge access or locker.

Cigar Life is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, platinum and gold members can access the lounge 24/7, according to Fornario.

 

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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