Advertisement
  1. Business

Cigars International taps Pasco retail hub for its first store in Southeast U.S.

Cigars International is planning a 9,500-square foot retail store in the Cypress Creek Town Center complex near the Interstate 75 and State Road 56 interchange in central Pasco. Shown here is the company’s recently opened store in the Dallas area. [Cigars International]
Published Jul. 31

LUTZ — The company that is shuttering Thompson Cigar in Tampa is proposing a new retail location in Pasco County under its Cigars International brand.

Bethlehem Shared Services is proposing a 9,500-square-foot standalone store within the Cypress Creek Town Center retail hub near the Interstate 75 and State Road 56 interchange in central Pasco.

The store would be the first Cigars International location in the Southeastern U.S. It opened a new 6,000-square-foot store in the Dallas area last year. Its three other stores are in Pennsylvania.

Cigars International, known mostly for its internet and catalogue business, is owned by Scandanavian Tobacco Group of Denmark, the same company that acquired Thompson Cigar in 2018 for $62 million. Earlier this year, the company announced it would close Thompson's outlet store and distribution center just north of Tampa International Airport and lay off 112 workers by the end of the year.

Besides Texas, the company's expansion zeroed in on Florida ''due to weather and strong premium cigar heritage in the state,'' Craig Reynolds, president of Cigars International, said Wednesday.

The company also wanted to capitalize on Thompson's successful retail operation in Tampa.

"We want to give their customers a place to go to as well as bringing a presence to the market,'' Reynolds said.

Thompson's current retail employees will be offered positions in the Cigars International store, said MatCook, director of retail operations. The store will employ 30 to 35 people, he said.

Bethlehem Shared Services and Dynamic Engineering of Delray Beach submitted preliminary plans with Pasco County in mid-July for the new store to be built on 1.4 acres on Creek Grass Way, That is on the southeast side of the Cypress Creek Town Center retail complex near the existing LongHorn Steak House restaurant, east of Tampa Premium Outlets mall.

"They seem to be serious,'' said Bob Sierra of Pasco Ranch Inc., the land owner leasing the site to the cigar store.

The company's store near Dallas is 6,000 square feet, or just two-thirds of the size of the retail outlet planned in Pasco. The Texas store is marketed as a destination featuring more than 1,300 cigar brands, a full service bar, an indoor lounge with televisions and an outdoor lounge with fire pits. The Pasco store will include the same amenities, plus a conference room available for parties, a larger outdoor patio and more storage space, said Cook.

"It's not so much a cigar store, but a destination,'' Reynolds said. "We don't sell cigars we sell the customer experience.''

The company hopes to open the store by the end of the second quarter in 2020, said Reynolds, and it already is scouting a second potential location within the Tampa area.

U.S. cigar consumption is forecast to top 13.665 billion pieces this year with sales approaching $9.4 billion, according to Statistica's Consumer Market Outlook that tracks consumer goods. That represents a 4.4 percent growth in revenue over the past year and cigar sales are projected to increase at an annual rate of 2.2 percent over each of the next four years, according to Statistica.

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The lobby bar at the Current Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa serves eclectic cocktails and locally brewed coffee. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Take a look inside Tampa Bay’s newest boutique hotel.
  2. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
  3. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.
  4. Former WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree, shown here with his wife Tree, filed a lawsuit Friday against his former employer alleging he was fired because of age discrimination and retaliation. [Times file] WTSP  |  FACEBOOK
    The suit comes after a federal agency took no action on age discrimination complaints he had filed.
  5. Guests of the Flying Bridge at the Tradewinds Resort, which is now under new ownership. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    The new owner says he plans to keep its management and 1,100 employees.
  6. The University of South Florida has earned national accolades for its push to raise graduation rates. Student loan debt in Florida is so crushing that it makes it hard to afford a house.
    Staggering debt loads make it hard to buy a home.
  7. The “nakation” — aka clothing-optional tourism — is becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. Shirking that outer layer at nude beaches and resorts and even on clothing-optional cruises has become the vacation choice du jour for hundreds of thousands of free-spirited Americans. AP Photo/Caleb Jones
    It’s certainly bringing in big bucks in Florida, where the state’s tourism department reports that nude recreation made a $7.4 billion economic impact in the Sunshine State last year.
  8. Bay area gas prices increased by double digits since last week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Pictured is a man in St. Petersburg filling up in 2017. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times (2017)] SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Oil refineries’ seasonal maintenance, as well as wholesale gas prices, pushed prices higher.
  9. Former Morgan Stanley investment broker Ami Forte has been permanently barred from working in the broker-dealer industry as a result of thousands of improper trades that were made in the accounts of Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy Speer during the last months of his life. (AP photo | 2016) TAMARA LUSH  |  Associated Press
    Financial regulators barred brokers Ami Forte and Charles Lawrence as a result of more than 2,800 trades on Roy Speer’s accounts in 2011 and 2011.
  10. A conveyor belt takes bags of food from ghost restaurants to a room where delivery drivers pick up orders at Kitchen United's Chicago location on Aug. 29, 2019. Kitchen United, a start-up that builds kitchen commissaries for restaurants looking to enter new markets through delivery or take-out only, has plans to open 40 more kitchens in cities across the U.S. through 2020. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford) TERESA CRAWFORD  |  AP
    Owner Michael Kudrna launched the four spinoffs earlier this year in a matter of weeks as he races to keep his Chicago-area business ahead of a growing trend.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement