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27-Nov-2008
Cigar shop bit of haven

An oasis for those who enjoy the finer things in life exists in Redlands - The Humidor, a cigar and gift shop with a relaxed, lounge-type atmosphere.
The shop at Cajon and Vine streets, owned by Tim Hughes and his fiance, Terry Dickey, is in the historic Fox Theater building where live music is heard at the Vault and the smooth ambience of Fox Coffee can be found next door.
Hughes and Dickey had always wanted to own a business in Redlands. After commuting from Redlands to Los Angeles for many years and working in the corporate world, Hughes was ready for a change.
Hughes' appreciation for fine wines, gourmet foods and good music has helped him develop his taste for a good cigar, and now he is helping others develop their taste for cigars as well.
Hughes is eager to educate the novice cigar smoker, knows how to direct his clients to a cigar suitable for their particular tastes and has developed a series of questions to determine which cigar is right for a particular client.
"First, I ask them if they drink coffee, if they drink red or white wine and if they like spicy food. When a person walks in here and says they take their coffee black, drink red wine and love spicy food, I will recommend a full-bodied robust cigar," Hughes said.
If they put a lot of cream in their coffee, chances are they don't like spicy foods, and I'll recommend a medium-bodied cigar."
Hughes acknowledges that at one time he was also a novice, but has learned over the years from his mistakes and from his clients' knowledge and now jokes that he had to buy a cigar shop to learn more about cigars.
"I learned a lot about cigars from owning the shop, but I always tell my customers that they don't have to buy a shop to learn about cigars. I'll teach them," Hughes said.
Since Hughes and Dickey took over the business in February, they have nearly doubled their sales. As awareness of the shop continues to grow, business is soaring, with October being their best month yet. In contrast to the current economy, Hughes and Dickey are eagerly anticipating what the rest of the year holds.
"When people can no longer afford vacations, they start doing 'home-cations' and indulge in a nice bottle of wine and a nice cigar," Hughes said.
Guests at The Humidor can also come in to get away from the hustle and bustle and sit in front of a large plasma-screen television and take in a game or two of football while enjoying a cigar and lounging in a leather chair. Hughes has been known to order a pizza for his guests while watching a game.
Marc Bazell, one of The Humidor's regular clients, has been a cigar connoisseur for many years and knows what a quality cigar shop is made of. After traveling all over the world on business, he has developed a list of his favorite cigar shops in such places as Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sacramento and Redlands.
"When I went to Sacramento on business I found a nice cigar shop that happened to be the cigar lounge that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to, and after I described The Humidor, the owner said, 'If the governor was ever in there, he would definitely go to The Humidor,"' Bazell said.
"For those who enjoy a good smoke, to relax and socialize, it's a nice place," he said.
Dickey also enjoys the cool atmosphere of the shop, when she's not at her day job as a physical education teacher. Dickey, a Redlands native, is excited to be embarking on this new journey with her fianc and the cigar lounge.
"I grew up in Redlands and have always wanted to own a business in Redlands. I have always loved the downtown business area," Dickey said.
"It's been excellent. Tim does a great job and everyone tells us that it's a real homey atmosphere now," she said.
The at-home atmosphere is exactly what Hughes achieves each day he comes into the shop, and like entertaining guests at home, he always stays until the last customer finishes the game and his cigar.


Source: San Bernardino Sun