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Actor finds daytme gig at cigar store

Award-winning Manchester actor and director Brett Mallard recently took over as manager at the Good Times Smoke Shop in Nashua, which he says gives aficionados the chance to take part in the “affordable luxury” of smoking a cigar. The 49-year-old Mallard, who is also a photographer, has had a distinguished career in theater. The cigar shop, at 449 Amherst St., is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Mallard said people are encouraged to relax on the leather couches furnishing the shop's lounge, which also includes a wide-screen television.
Q:How did you get into the cigar business?
I worked in the corporate environment for a long time and kind of became a semi cigar aficionado. I use to have a cigar on my lunch break. It was kind of like a mini-vacation. I was directed to the shop and I ended up making a significant career change. It's such a relaxed atmosphere. You really get to know the customers.
What is the atmosphere like at your shop?
People are very, very surprised. I don't think they expect what they're walking into. It's in a strip mall. There's a lot of ambience here. It's a throwback to a different era. The lighting, it's not lit dimly, but it's not fluorescent lighting. When you come into the lounge it's very relaxed. There's magazines and newspapers. There's free Wi-Fi, so sometimes people come in with their laptops.
What's your clientele?
I don't think there is a typical customer. One of the things that surprised me was the diversity and demographics. We have women, old men, young men. There's really no stamp you can put on people who smoke tobacco.
Are there peak times?
It's fairly steady all day. Fridays are usually pretty good.
Is there a science to cigars?
No, I don't think so. It's very subjective, like a fine wine. There's definitely different tastes. [Mallard broke cigars into three categories: mild, medium and full-bodied.] It really depends on a person's taste. It's also where the product is grown. Companies just try to blend the different leaves to come up with a taste to market. There's a lot of trial and error. [He said the humidor at his shop is one of the largest single stick collections in New Hampshire.]
What would you choose?
I like full-bodied cigars. I want to feel and taste the tobacco in my mouth. I like Padron, which is a Nicaraguan blend, that's pretty close to a Cuban blend. It really runs the gamut of taste. But it may taste different to someone else.
There's ones with chocolates and coffee. [He also mentioned white chocolate, Chianti-infused, Irish Cream, mango and a new cigar infused with Jack Daniels.] There's a sweet taste to the wrapper.
Considering so many establishments have banned smoking the last couple years, has that affected business since people have fewer places to smoke?
I haven't really been here long enough to tell. I can only imagine that it does, especially with cigar smoking. Many people don't smoke in homes. It does leave an odor. We have huge smoke eaters, so the lounge doesn't get overwhelmed with smoke.
There's something idealistic or ambient about cigars. Do you see it that way?
Yes, there's something very mysterious about cigars. So many images come to mind — gentlemen of days gone by, The Godfather... It's the camaraderie of sitting with a group of people and just sitting around and relaxing.
How do you combat the health concerns?
Health issues are inherent with smoking. A lot of people went to cigars because you're not inhaling. Is that healthy? No. Is that healthier? Probably. It will never be healthy. [He did say companies are working to make cigars a little safer, by reducing some of the harmful byproducts.]
Can people come into the lounge with cigarettes as well?
Oh sure. We don't carry typical cigarettes. We have some Canadian and French imports. And we have our own tobacco blends for pipes that we mix here. [The shop also carries cigarette-making machines. He said with the cost of cigarettes rising, people can make three cartons of cigarettes for the price of one purchased at a store.] A lot of people are going that route.

Source: Manchester HippoPress