Make us your home page
Instagram

Facing crossroads, Smokers Paradise owner in Clearwater followed a pipe dream

Thirty-four years ago, Alfio Nucifora was at a crossroads.

Out of work, married with one child and another on the way, Nucifora wondered, "What am I going to do?"

The native of Sicily grew up in the family tailoring business. He came to the United States in 1967 at age 24 to visit his two sisters and ended up staying.

He worked for the prestigious G. Fox & Co. Department Store in Hartford, Conn., and moved here in 1975 for the weather, he said.

But he couldn't find work.

Area department stores were hiring women tailors, he said, who were going to work at lower salaries.

What to do? The answer to his question came one afternoon.

"I was smoking a pipe," he said, "and I thought, 'When people are happy, they smoke. When they're nervous, they smoke.' I'm going to open a business for smokers."

He opened Smokers Paradise in 1976 at Sunshine Mall in Clearwater. Pipe smoking was in style then and the shop became popular with local smokers.

In addition to cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and accessories, the store featured top-of-the-line pipes: the hand-carved dark Briarwood and the white Meerschaum carved from the fossilized shells of sea creatures. A lifelong smoker, Nucifora blended the shop's pipe tobacco using his own formulas.

Twenty years later, when the mall was closing, Nucifora moved the business across the street to Clearwater Plaza.

As the pipe fad faded, cigars took over. Among his cigar stock are the Arturo Fuente OpusX cigars, one of the highest-rated brands.

Since July, when the cigarette tax went sky high, Nucifora said, smokers have been buying loose tobacco and making their own cigarettes.

A carton of the better brand cigarettes now costs $54.95, he said.

"If you buy half a pound of tobacco for $28, you can make two cartons of cigarettes," he said. "It's a good deal and it's a better tobacco — pure tobacco with no additives."

Maggie Pack of Clearwater recently came to the shop to learn how to make her own cigarettes.

She has been a smoker for 20 years, she said, and "I like all-natural cigarettes."

Nucifora showed her how to stuff the tobacco in a small, $9.95 hand-operated machine, place the cigarette form on the end and slide a handle that shoves the tobacco into the cigarette. Then she tried it herself.

Before leaving, Pack bought tobacco, cigarette forms, a cigarette maker and a fancy case that can hold a dozen cigarettes.

Although Nucifora, 66, said he has thought about retiring, he's not ready yet.

"I love my store," he said, smiling. "I meet so many wonderful people."

IF YOU GO

Smokers Paradise

Where: 1251 Missouri Ave., Clearwater.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.

For information: Call (727) 446-2231.

Facing crossroads, Smokers Paradise owner in Clearwater followed a pipe dream 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jeff Bezos tops Bill Gates as world's richest person — for now

    Corporate

    A surge in Amazon.com Inc. shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer's earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world's richest person, according to a Bloomberg report.

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, discusses his Blue Origin reusable rocket project in Colorado Springs in April. A bump in the price of Amazon shares in July of 2017 was enough to move  Bezos above Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, who has topped Forbes' billionaires list 18 out of the last 23 years. 
(Nick Cote | The New York Times]
  2. Verizon is back: Unlimited data is boosting subscriptions

    Energy

    After posting surprising losses among cellphone subscribers earlier this year, Verizon is back. The wireless carrier said Thursday that it has added 358,000 phone subscribers over the past several months, blowing analyst expectations out of the water and showing that its unlimited data plans are helping to keep …

    Verizon said Thursday that it has added 358,000 phone subscribers over the past several months, blowing analyst expectations out of the water and showing that its unlimited data plans are helping to keep customers loyal.
(Associated Press]
  3. Florida's first walk-in clinics for medical marijuana are opening in Tampa Bay

    Business

    TAMPA — Inside a nondescript white-washed office building across from St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa is one of the state's first walk-in clinics for patients seeking medical marijuana.

    Patient Julie DiPietrantonio, 67, of St. Petersburg, is examined by Dr. Howard Riker of Tetra Health Care. DiPietrantonio suffers from chronic pain caused by spinal stenosis, degenerative arthritis, and sacroiliitis. She is looking for relief by using medical marijuana. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Allegiant Air reports $400 million in revenue for second quarter

    Airlines

    Allegiant Air's parent company, Allegiant Travel Co., reported just over $400 million in revenue for the year's second quarter, up 16 percent from last year.

    Allegiant Air CEO Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. | [Courtesy of Tony Jannus Aviation Society]
  5. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]