Happily Ever After

Have a Cigar!

Mar 20, 2017
Photo by: Rick Mellerup

A proud father handing out cigars to celebrate the birth of his child is a longstanding American tradition.

But other steps on the pathway to creating a family also offer opportunities for a man and his buddies, even today sometimes females, to join in the ritual of gathering together to enjoy a fine cigar.

The familiar schoolyard ditty outlines the progression: “Jessica and Bobby sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”

OK, Bobby isn’t likely to distribute Cohibas by the jungle gym to celebrate his first kiss. But the older Robert has multiple opportunities to get together with his friends to savor both a smoke and a milestone.

The Olde Tyme Smoke Shoppe is located at 213A North Beach Ave. in Beach Haven. If that is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ 221B address, that’s fine; the great detective was quite the smoker. The shop, owned by Patrick Barbera, has been in business for 20 years.

Gail Shore, who said her last name is perfect for a beach community, has worked at the tobacconist shop for six years. She said there are three times when grooms or their fathers or best men or other members of the male wedding party tend to visit her place of employment.

The engagement, she said, sometimes brings the groom and his friends out, looking for smokes to commemorate hearing the magic words “I will” in response to the “Will you marry me?” question. Cigars, she said, are also quite popular at weddings. But the bigliest time (thanks President Trump, for inventing a new word) for cigars in the whole romantic saga is the bachelor party.

“We do a lot of bachelor parties,” said Shore, “I’d say about 20 a (wedding) season. And I may be counting low.”

Now, many women spend as much time planning a wedding as NASA does a space launch. Men, on the other hand… Well, boys will be boys. Procrastination often reigns.

“Last year a guy called from Harvey Cedars in the middle of a bachelor party,” said Shore. “It was pouring outside, the water was half way up the sidewalk; you almost needed waders to walk into the shop. He called about 8 p.m. on a Saturday night in our busiest season. He wanted 20 very high-end cigars and he sent an Uber driver to deliver them. He wasn’t a previous customer; he just saw us online.

“I wasn’t letting that business go. I was ready for a challenge.

“I’ve got a second story,” she continued. “Same scenario, only it was a wedding; it was probably in August. A guy called wanting Ashton Coronas (another high ticket item). He called an hour before the wedding at the Mallard Island Yacht Club on the bay in Manahawkin.”

Shore sternly said, “We encourage people to plan ahead. But, those are some of the heroics we can pull off.”

Planning ahead, after all, can lead to a perfect cigar experience. Manahawkin resident and businessman Lou Peccarelli’s daughter Marissa was married last June. Peccarelli figured having some quality smokes available would be a nice touch.

“I called up and said, ‘I want to take some cigars to the wedding.’ She (Shore) set up a great package: cigars, cutters, matches. It was really nice.”

Indeed, Peccarelli almost sounded as if he was talking about food when he raved about Shore’s handiwork.

“It was a nice presentation,” he said. “It was like when you are shopping and all of a sudden there is a nice juicy steak.”

Shore said the Olde Tyme Smoke Shoppe can be especially helpful when a newcomer to the world of fine cigars is involved.

“It can be intimidating,” said Shore of a newbie walking into a smoke shop. “It’s like I feel when I’m shopping for wine.”

The key, she said, is relaxing the customer and running through options. She laid out some rather high-end choices, boxes of Ashtons and Romeo y Julietas. But she also made sure to call attention to the shop’s very reasonably priced house brand.

“They’re Toro sized,” said Barbera later, who talked about having them designed by cigar makers during a trip to Honduras.

Shore had all sorts of ideas. Cigars, she said, would made wonderful additions to the gift bags handed out to wedding guests. She could personally make custom bands with the names of the couple on wedding cigars. Gee, wouldn’t accessories such as cutters or a humidor make a wonderful gift for a groom or members of the wedding party?

The Old Tyme Smoke Shoppe can satisfy the tastes of the most discriminating smoker. And their inventory isn’t limited to cigars. It also includes pipes, pipe tobacco and cigarettes, with American Spirit being the highlighted brand, and even boxes of “It’s a girl/It’s a boy” cigars (“They are not high end,” Shore remarked).

Yep, even a distinguished smoker such as Sherlock Holmes – who not only smoked pipes (although in Arthur Conan Doyle’s canonical Holmes stories, the detective smoked a clay, briar or cherry wood pipe, never the Calabash that became associated with Holmes onstage and in movies) but also cigars, usually Cuban, and, most often, cigarettes – could probably find what he wanted at the Olde Tyme Smoke Shoppe. And Holmes was quite the expert, having written a monograph about tobacco in which he claimed he could identify over 140 types by merely examining the ash.

There’s only one problem with bringing Holmes into this article. He was never married in Doyle’s canon, just to Mary Russell in a mystery series bearing her name written by the still active American author Laurie R. King. But who knows, maybe he threw a bachelor party for his best friend, which Dr. Watson, out of modesty, didn’t reveal to the public.

For more about the Olde Tyme Smoke Shoppe and help in planning your wedding/bachelor party, visit oldetymecigars@comcast.net, or call 609-492-1600.

— Rick Mellerup

(Photo by: Rick Mellerup)
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