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.

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 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!

Mixing pleasure with business…Arizona

So I had the opportunity this week to travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale to speak and be part of a panel at a work conference. It was a really nice honor to be selected and after a long day of travel, I arrived in paradise. I was fortunate enough for my wife to travel and meet me there and combine some vacation days in after the conference. Coming from Pa and getting to Az after the cold we have been having was certainly a blessing. Being from the south, I am a lot more partial to warm than cold.

I arrived at the airport Tuesday (3 hour time difference made for a long day) and my wife instructed me to meet her at the rental car center. Off to the shuttle I go to arrive to a bright red, Camaro convertible SS with 4k miles! Now I would never own this car, but as a rental for the week in the desert, oh hell yes I will! Off to the JW Marriot to check into our room. This place is simply majestic. Set at the foot of the mountains, this is an oasis of scenery and upscale living. This was proven later with the clientele for the restaurant and seeing the exotic car show in the parking lot. Super friendly staff, super clean and the food was great.

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Being a cigar guy obviously high on my priority of things to see and do was to visit local shops. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t work out exactly like I planned but…I did bring cigars and I did get to visit 2 local spots. Smoke and Joe (cigars and coffee, well done) and Ford on Fifth. For those of you that are on Instagram and Twitter you probably know FTB_Melanie and FTB_Anthony Cantelmo, Ford on Fifth is their shop. More to come on that.

After a successful conference on Wed and a wonderful fully catered dinner in the garden, I found a fellow cigar aficionado and he presented me with the offer of, you bring the cigars and I will buy the drinks. You sir have a deal! I enjoyed a Padron 1926 Maduro and a nice bourbon and he a Balmoral Anejo XO and scotch. After trying the Lagavulin he was having, I decided I needed to have some of that as well. That was my first time with that and I was not disappointed. Super smokey and a great pairing with the Padron I was having.

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Thursday was an early start and 5 hour drive up to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. WOW! I can’t begin to describe in words how breathtaking the scenery was there. Pics are nice but can’t even come close to the real life experience. After a long day of hiking, tours and moments of deep thought, we drove the 5 hours back, convertible top down, music cranked and cruising through some beautiful desert landscape.

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Friday was open to whatever so we went to some local spots to sight-see and do the tourist thing. As we were driving, my wonderful wife noticed Smoke and Joe and asked if I wanted to stop, I almost flipped the car doing a u turn to get there. Lol. Ok Not really but yes I did indeed want to stop. What a cool place. I should have gotten pictures but with jet lagged, time change, busy schedule and overall drag assing that was going on, I just wanted to smoke. My wife was kind enough to replace my Padron 1926 Maduro and bought me 2 house blends and the Full Metal Jacket cigar. Got to love it when the wife takes such great care of you! We sat outside and I enjoyed a L’atelier Limited Edition while talking with the owner for a few minutes. He is a pilot with Southwest and opened the cigar lounge. Nice selection, the lady at the counter was super friendly, the private lounge seemed very nice and the coffee bar was a nice touch.

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After that nice break, it was off to do some more sightseeing and photos. We found ourselves near Ford on Fifth so I decided to stop in and see if Anthony was around. He was not so I was a little bummed about that but no fear, the guy working at the time (I did not catch his name) was more than helpful in pointing me to the long time eluded Deliverance Nocturne that I have been searching for. Score! I picked up some of those and a Mi Querida from Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco. Steve was there on Tuesday night and unfortunately I missed him. I hoped to make it back later that evening to have a smoke but that didn’t play out. Ford on Fifth has some history behind it and has a small lounge and a nice humidor with a nice selection and a outdoor sitting area in the front.

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We headed out to our next adventure which was a sunset electric bike tour through the desert. What a cool concept and oh what a trip! The trails were a fun challenge, the views were terrific, the knowledge about the plants, desert, area etc was super interesting. A side from a brief encounter with a very large and very pissed off rattlesnake, we had a great trip. I highly recommend taking the tour if you ever visit. Hit me up and I will get you the info. Our tour guide was great and did a great job of getting video and photos on top of a great tour.

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We tried out a place called the Wild Thaiger we saw on Diners, Drivein’s and Dives for dinner. Very good Thai food and worth checking out. After a full week and an early start on Saturday of travel, sadly it was time to put Az behind us for now.

I say for now because my wife and I truly fell in love with the state. It is certainly on the top of our list for places to move. If I can make that work in the future, I certainly will do so. Until then, we will have to rely on photos and memories. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. I know this isn’t that much about cigars but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Feel free to drop comments or suggestions.

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