A Reflection of the Past 30 Years in the Cigar Business
Another Editorial by David Garofalo
For me, it is so hard to believe it’s been 30 years. Today, I reflect on how it happened for me and wonder where the time has gone?
The first Two Guys Smoke Shop opened in 1985 in Somerville Massachusetts. I opened it with my life-long buddy Paul Antonelli who I still consider a brother. He now lives in Florida and is not in the cigar business, actually after just one year Paul decided the cigar business wasn’t for him so I asked my brother John if he wanted to fill in Paul’s spot, because Two Guys needed Two Guys and John did.
Just a short time later, Two Guys Smoke Shop outgrew the small 200 square foot store and we moved to a bigger 500 square foot store right down the street. By 1987 another store in East Boston was added along with a small mail order / catalogue division. Another year had passed and another Two Guys Smoke Shop was opened in Everett, Massachusetts, which is our home town. Just a short time later, the Cigar Boom of the 1990’s began, and we were in the right place (as they say) at the right time.
In July 1996, Massachusetts added its first tax to cigars (12%) and after a single-handed losing battle to fight the tax, we made a risky decision; pack up the cigars and take our business 30 miles north, over the border to Exit 1 off Rte. 93 in “tax free” Salem, New Hampshire. Overnight, the cigars were hauled over the border to avoid the “floor tax,” which is a tax to be paid immediately on product you have in-stock and unsold. This is product that we built up for 10 years and wouldn’t be able to pay it, so we did what we had to do and a 10-year established business was shut down and we were beginning all over again.
The new location, which happened to be the only one available in the area, was big. It was 2,500 square feet, larger than all three of their shops combined and in a state where we had never done business before. Business was amazing right from the start. Some of our best customers traveled 30 miles or more just to keep doing business at Two Guys Smoke Shop, and many more followed. It wasn’t long after that Two Guys became New England’s highest volume retail store, all thanks to those loyal customers, some of which we still see on a regular basis.
In August 2002 Massachusetts increased the tax on cigars to 30% and a lot of new folks began to travel to Two Guys and became new loyal customers. Suddenly Two Guys outgrew its location. Directly across the street, we purchased an 8,000 square foot building (formerly Apple Computer Town) and a full rehab was completed on Saturday January 4, 2003. Along with 18 inches of snow came hundreds of cigar fanatics to see The World’s Largest Cigar Store in size at that time… maybe still?
In October 2005, Two Guys Smoke Shop opened the next location, this time Exit 1 off Rte. 95 in Seabrook, New Hampshire.
In October of 2007 Two Guys Smoke Shop purchases its third location, this time on the corner of Spit Brook Road and Daniel Webster Highway (formerly Hooters Restaurant) and this time it was again the first exit into New Hampshire, coincidently Exit 1 off Rte. 3 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Actually there was no coincidence about it, we were driving customers to us and we became the destination. Another complete rehab was conducted and a new 6,000 square foot facility was born on April 19, 2008.
It’s hard to believe 30 years have passed since opening the doors at Two Guys Smoke Shop for the first time, at that tiny shop in Somerville Massachusetts back in 1985. I drive by it once in a while and look while remembering that I had dreams of success but I honestly never expected the success I have already seen.
Today, Two Guys Smoke Shop is a success in our tiny world of cigars, known by cigar fanatics throughout the country and amazingly in some cases throughout the globe. How did this happen?
I would like to think that it’s from lots of hard work and dedication from our staff and it has paid off. I did work very hard myself but I certainly got lots of help and I’m extremely grateful to all those who work for me now, and those that have moved on. Each one of them certainly helped push Two Guys forward in good times and bad along the way during the past thirty years… Thank you to each and every one of them.
To all the Manufacturers, brand owners and reps who participated in lots of our crazy events and promotions. Standing in our shops and shaking the hands of our customers, creating special cigars and merchandising and marketing along with us… we couldn’t have done it without you. Manufactures who started after I did, who I feel like I have grown up with and grew along with…Thank you all so much.
To my family, including some who are not with us any longer. Including my late Father, John, who actually passed away 18 years ago in our shop from an aneurism. I wish he could see what has been accomplished. My brother John who died unexpectedly 11 years ago, who would have been so proud. My wife Lori who allowed me to be married to her and the business at the same time and who put up with my endless work days, weeks and years… and to my daughter Gianna who also shared me with my business and customers. Thank you to my mother Angela who is still with me and has continued to push me forward my entire life…thank you for the pushes when I needed it and even when I didn’t. Enough already… back off! I’m kidding… thank you all so very much.
There are so many people to thank for helping me archive this milestone but the most thanks goes to our customers, for their continued support and loyalty. I certainly couldn’t have done it without them, as they played the key role. They are, and have always been the only reason we show up for work each day. Customers who, by word of mouth helped build our customer base as cheerleaders to our shops, for this I can’t thank them enough. Their loyalty has taken us to places I never even dreamed of.
I am very excited for the future of Two Guys Smoke Shop. I have a plan and with the continued support of our customers and future customers I expect Two Guys Smoke Shop will continue to grow for years and years to come. With thirty years under my belt now I’ll say this, you haven’t seen anything yet!
I know there are lots of choices where a cigar smoker can spend their hard-earned money and I’m honored and thankful to the ones that have chosen to spend even one dollar at Two Guys Smoke Shop. Thank you all so much. Thirty down… at least thirty more to go god willing.
Owner and Founder
Two Guys Smoke Shop