Founder and owner of The Smokin’ Cigar, Trae Zammit, is loving being in the Beaches community. His second store, opened 18 months ago on Queen Street East, draws in customers from around the city who enjoy what he refers to as a bit of luxury lifestyle. “We are just so excited to be here,” he says “the Beaches is such a vibrant and exciting place to be, with a strong community presence”.
“We’re hoping to bring the same success and community spirit as our first store, which has operated for 12 years in Leaside.”
Trae emphasizes the importance of supporting neighbourhood stores, “I do all my shopping in the community where I live,” he explains, pointing to the shops where he buys his clothes, noting that besides great products you can’t beat the customer service of independent shops. The Smokin’ Cigar also makes a point of supporting local charities and events, including Beaches Lions.
Trae opened his store when he was 25, close to where he lived. He was as passionate then as now about being a true “tobacconist” – which means, the store doesn’t sell cigarettes. Today, his Beaches store is the largest tobacconist in Toronto East end.
Although most clients are male, the store also attracts women, buying for themselves or looking for a gift. On one wall of the store, there’s a display of gorgeous top-of-the-line fragrance lamps, fragrance and essential oils by Lampe Berger and Ashleigh & Burwood to clean and fragrance the air. Besides cigars, products include smoking tobacco, pipes, as well as cigar accessories: cutters and lighters, humidors and humidor solutions.
“A cigar is about the secluded moments in life, as well as the great times I have had with my friends,” he says. “Some of the best conversations in my life have been over a cigar”. He also explains how the making and enjoying of cigars has fascinated those who’ve come to appreciate what they represent.
“A cigar is like a great wine,” he says, “the sun, the soil, and the craftsmanship that goes into making a cigar – 300 sets of hands to make each one – and then over 45 minutes or so you have such enjoyment.”
Cigars at the store range from $2 to $100, and include their own house brand, manufactured under their private label in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. In fact, each year, from the one store alone, they sell 1,000 humidors and almost 50,000 of house brand cigars. The store also carries cigars from around the world including, of course, Cuba. During the warmer months, customers can enjoy their cigar on a quiet attractive backyard patio.
Next February, the Leaside store is expanding to almost 4 times the size, featuring the largest walk-in humidor in Toronto and making it the largest tobacconist in Canada. The Beaches store will be the largest walk-in humidor in east Toronto.
Beaches: 1946 Queen East
Leaside: 1699 Bayview, moving to 1540 Bayview in February