Local Spotlight…Main Street News, Doylestown, Pa

Today we have an interview with Jeff Brandt of Main Street News in historical Doylestown, Pa. This is exactly the type of thing this blog was built for and I am happy to offer a platform to small shop owners, brands, etc and help get the word out. Thanks Jeff for doing this.
Screenshot_20170515-071108
When did you first get into cigars?
-I smoked cigars since age 18, but got really serious about it 10 years ago, as a consumer. About 5 years ago I took a part time gig at a cigar shop and worked there about 3 years while waiting for my current store to become available. My shop Main Street News opened March of 2016.
What is it about cigars that you enjoy the most?
– I love the fact that the premium cigar is hand made. I also admire the tradition and integrity that is passed down from generation to generation.
What made you decide to open your own shop?
– I opened my Newsstand because I saw an opportunity for a business that was needed in my town. The cigars weren’t part of the original plan. It wasn’t until I started the planning and the layout of the news stand that I realized I should sell cigars, and it would fit just perfect. Not to mention I had some outside pressure from my friends to sell cigars.
So tell us a little about your shop.
– Main Street News is a small news & smoke shop in the historical town of Doylestown, Pa. My location housed a local newspaper and news stand in 1804, and continued up into the late 1800’s.
msn3
What’s the best part of being a shop owner?
– The best part about being a shop owner is meeting new people all the time. It doesn’t feel like work when your suggesting great cigars for people, and having them return with their great experience on your recommendation. Its awful satisfying.
What are some of your favorite cigars?
-I like a med-full blend the best. In a Maduro or San Andres wrapper. Some of my favorites come out of Dominican Big Leaguer factory. I also like the Jenneff Session II Maduro. That cigar is blended by Consuelo Gomez, remember her because she is doing great things with tobacco. Hamlet Parades is another guy I really like. He works under the Tavicusa umbrella which is owned by Rocky Patel. Flat Bed Cigars is another brand I like. They produce a killer San Andres cigar named Billboard, and a great PA Broadleaf.
msn2
Is there anyone in the industry that you look up to or admire? If so who and why?
– I admire the smaller, farmer who starts with a seed and ends with a finished product. Those are the people I admire. Anybody can buy a cigar and slap their name on it. But the person who spends years cultivating and planting tobacco, then blending and aging leaf is the real superstar of the industry. Like Carlos Carlito Fuente Jr., Don Peppin, and Jorge Padron, to name a few. But if I had to pick one that I really admire it would be Francisco Almonte, of Dominican Big Leaguer. He is the grower, blender, and roller and is doing great stuff with tobacco. His sticks were the first to grace my humidor, and he was the first to come see me, and I felt a connection with him and could see he is a young and ambitious business man and I wanted to grow with him. He really helped me get going in the beginning with product, and he took a chance on me. Maybe because he saw i shared the same passion and dedication in cigars as he did.
msn4
What are some of the brands available in your shop?
– I don’t limit myself to any particular  brand or labels. I like what I like, and I carry such that, and anything my customers ask for.
Do you ship?
– I started to dabble in the shipping of cigars, and it wasn’t because I was looking to do so. It started out because a few folks reading my reviews on our Face Book page, and stuff I shared in the different groups I belong to such as, smoke filled room, the cigar corner, dark side of the leaf, to name a few. Anybody can message me thru the Main Street News, Doylestown Face Book page, or by email Smokejmb@yahoo.com
Main Street News

Local Spotlight. Ford on Fifth, Scottsdale, AZ.

I am very happy to introduce my first local cigar lounge spotlight feature. This is something that I have wanted to do for some time and it is finally starting to come together. Local shops are the heart of the industry and are so vital to the cigar community. I try to visit local shops every time I go to a new place. When I travel for work I have found some great shops that I visit almost every chance I get. You get the opportunity to talk with new people, try new sticks you may not find at your local shop, and just take in the experience in a new environment. There are some places that I go just to escape and enjoy some quiet time and I know what shops offer me that chance. Others I know it’s going to be a large group of regulars and the conversations will range greatly. It all depends on the mood. One thing you will always find in any lounge, is like minded people wanting to hang out and enjoy that one equalizer, quality cigars. No matter what your background, social status, income, ethnicity, religious belief, sexuality, etc. once you step into a lounge and light up a smoke, I have found that all the rest simply does not matter. I have seen it, said it and heard it so many times “If the world was a cigar lounge, it would be a beautiful place”. There is so much truth to that statement. Have you ever seen the need for bouncers in a cigar lounge? I haven’t. Why? Because it’s just not that type of environment. I have had total strangers give me some great cigars, I have given cigars to total strangers, and made total strangers friends. This is why I love this community and being involved, if only a very small part, and doing things like this is my small contribution and a way to give back.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days down in Phoenix, Az and from the minute I knew I was going, I started making plans to visit Ford on Fifth. Anthony and Melanie Cantelmo are well known throughout the cigar industry and Anthony recently took over Ford on Fifth. If you are not familiar with them, follow them both on Instagram and Twitter. Unfortunately, Anthony and I’s schedules just didn’t match up and we did not get the opportunity to sit down, have some sticks and do the interview but we still managed to make it happen.

So here we go. A few questions with Anthony Cantelmo of Ford on Fifth.

f5-front IMG_1755

 When did you personally get into cigars?

I smoked my first cigar on my 18th Birthday, back in 2000, and have been part of the industry ever since. My first job in the industry was in 2006, I started as a retail night guy at my local B&M.

 What is it about cigars that you enjoy the most?
I love the aroma, the flavor, and the craftsmanship of cigars, but to be honest it’s the camaraderie that I really love about cigars. The friends and people I have met, because of my love of the leaf has been a fantastic journey. I think there is such a richness in conversation that generally happens when people sit down and unwind with a good cigar.
How long have you been involved in the industry?

I have been involved since 2006. In the beginning I was a teacher, so it was only as part time work that I participated in the retail side, but in 2010 I transitioned full time and also ran a news blog for the industry too. In late 2012 I started my first position as a rep for the manufacturer’s with La Flor Dominicana and worked with them plus a couple others until November of 2016 when the shop opportunity presented itself.

 What made you decide to open your own shop?

I think for me it’s always been a dream to do it, but it wasn’t something I was actively pursuing. To be honest I was content with my sales brokerage and doing well in that field. The shop opportunity fell into my lap though and it was too good not to go after it. The life balance it provides for me and my family is priceless and it’s great to be part of a shop community again.

 Tell us about your shop.

Our shop is a fantastic small retail spot in the middle of historic downtown Old Scottsdale in AZ. One of the most unique aspects of our shop is that it’s the oldest shop in AZ for tobacco. It was founded in 1958. Our philosophy is “a new tradition” which embraces the past, but also looks forward to modernizing some elements and building our community.

 What’s the best part about being a shop owner?

Being part of the community is my greatest joy. Our shop is truly a “Cheers” environment where everyone know’s your name. I always tell people how thankful I am for our community and the great guys that we have. Nothing is better than that!

 What are some of your favorite cigars?
My favorites are always changing, but some of my current favorites are Villa Sombra by Warped, Muestra de Saka by Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust, La Rosa by HVC, and Bishop’s Blend by Black Label Trading Company.
 What’s it like having a spouse that is so recognized throughout the industry?

It’s great to have a spouse in the industry because you have a common ground when you talk about the in’s and out’s of the business. From a notoriety stand point it’s has its up’s-and-downs, but the best part is having a voice and reach when we want to talk about or share information about our business. My goal is to have a global community with our BOTL’s and SOTL’s for our shop and Mel is a large part of that.

Anything else you want to add.

We Ship to Canada and Australia right now, and have a website that we are constantly working on at www.fordonfifth.com

 

I want to thank Anthony for taking the time to work with me on this and I want to thank Ben for helping me when I stopped in and hooking me up with some great sticks. If you are in the Phoenix, Scottsdale area, do yourself a favor and stop in. They are in a great area with a lot of shopping all within walking distance so if your spouse doesn’t want to hang out, there is plenty for them to do.

Check out some of the great specials they have available online right now also. Be sure to follow them on social media as they are doing some outstanding giveaways as well.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you have a local shop that you visit that you would like me to feature, drop me a comment and let me know. There are many great shops out there and we really need to give them some support. I will always make it a point to support them here.

Until next time everyone, long ashes and full glasses friends. If you stop in at Ford on Fifth, tell them you read about them here. Thanks in advance!