Where there is smoke, there's bound to be fire. This Saturday, the fires will be powered by butane and used to light cigars as customers and friends celebrate the 14th anniversary of Tobacco World: The Cigar Superstore on Sandy Plains Road.
Owner operator Scott “Red” Grantham is preparing for a party of 800 guests and special tobacco industry friends.
“We’re frying 30 turkeys and smoking 150 pounds of pork loin. Restaurant friends are bringing side dishes,” Grantham continues, “There’ll be a tent in the parking lot with live music by Spider Kelly, invited speakers, and giveaways. The party starts at noon.”
About 25 tobacco blenders and cigar makers are expected including: Tatuaje Cigars owner, Pete Johnson; and Room 101 Cigars founder, Matt Booth.
Tobacco World is a seven days a week hang-out spot for cigar smokers according to Grantham. The 3,000 sq. ft. space offers customers easy chairs, ashtrays, large flat screen TV and conversation on a range of topics.
Georgia code prohibits persons under 18 years of age from being in the store.
39 year-old, Grantham works at his business full time, responsibilities make a long list ranging from store layout and displays, ordering inventory and building vendor relationships. The business supports two other employees; one full time, one part time.
The stale economy is O.K. for cigar sales according to Grantham, federal taxes have had the biggest effect on his business.
Per federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 increased federal tax on large cigars from 20.7+% of sales price to 52.75% of sales price with ceiling of $0.4026 per cigar. Georgia taxes cigars at 23% of the wholesale cost price according to American Lung Association, State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. I get to smoke cigars in my own store with guys who are my friends.
Current law allows me to walk into my humidor and pick anything I want and light it up out in the store. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on changing the laws so that my customers can only select cigars from a catalog, eliminating the ability to see, touch or smell a cigar before buying it.
If the FDA is successful, I’ll have to blacken the humidor glass windows to conceal the cigars.
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is working on propositions that take cigar and pipe tobacco into their own product category.
Q. What is the best thing about Northeast Cobb?
A. Crime is low and I live 15 minutes from the store. I’ve been in the area since the late 80s.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. I started working in high school. I’ve had three jobs before working here. My last job was delivering Georgia Mountain Water which is how I met the former owner of this business, I had a regular delivery in the plaza.
I was on the golf course with an older peer from Georgia Mountain Water and he asked me if I wanted a cigar. I was standing on the green, beer in one hand, cigar in the other, and I liked it.
Q. What are some of the services you offer that people may not know about?
A. We will prep new humidors, bring them into ours and acclimate them to the humidity.
We fix lighters all the time.
We’re like bartenders, only we sell cigars instead of drinks.
Q. When did you start your business?
A. I’ve been the sole owner since 2009.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. First I was a customer here. I came in regular. The man who owned this place, my former partner, offered me a part time job. I had no clue about cigars. I bought and read every book that I could on cigars. Geeky books with diagrams of plants, information on experimenting with fermentations, I learned everything I could. I got to where I could tell what tobacco is in a blend.
I was offered to go full time, I had just been passed up for a manager’s position at my previous job, so I came here full time. The original business partners split, I put in sweat equity and bought in more and more and then bought my partner out.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. Be diligent and do your research. Do demographic research, what do your customers do? What do they buy?
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. We carry the most super premium and boutique cigars in the state. Everyone’s invited to the anniversary party this Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance, $10 same day.
700 Sandy Plains Rd, suite A6