Havana Dreamin’ was formed in the midst of a frightening, desperate situation. It all began on a dark day in early 2009 when the news broke that our favorite Montgomery, Alabama cigar store was going out of business. That ominous information created a panic as the cigar store gang contemplated a future without a place to enjoy cigars. Those were desperate hours indeed. However, after the initial alarm faded, an idea began to take root; we can find another place to smoke cigars -- even if we have to build it ourselves!
Initially, the plans were simple, ranging from using someone’s garage, to setting up a couple of chairs in the back room of a bar to create a place where the gang could meet and smoke. Eventually, the smoking club concept faded and in its place a notion grew that an entirely new cigar store could be built named Havana Dreamin’. The author of that brainstorm was Rick Payne. As Rick points out his profound revelation occurred one afternoon while smoking a big ol’ stogie when he decided to follow the career counseling advice he gave his daughter when she was in college. “Find something you like to do and your work won’t seem like work.” In short order he gathered two partners, Chuck Holland and Dave Harwood and together they decided to build something a little different and unique.
Departing from the usual strip mall cigar store that is all humidor, cash registers and a small to nonexistent smoking lounge they began searching for a house with lots of room for relaxing and enjoying the cigar or pipe smoking experience. We located a house zoned for business near the historic old Cloverdale district and the planning accelerated. A Caribbean beach house theme seemed a natural for a cigar store, especially one named Havana Dreamin’. A logo quickly followed.
With much help and more than a little persuasion from Chuck’s wife Roxanne, we chose color schemes and interior decorating designs. Some of the bright colors took some convincing, but after learning about complimentary colors, coordination and flow, Rick and Chuck became decorating believers as they channeled their inner South Beach perspective. Who knew there were so many shades of blue?
Next we hired a contractor and the real work began. What followed were several weeks of fourteen hour days filled with painting and repairs that the nearly 70 year old house desperately demanded. Slowly, the house took shape. Bright island colors replaced the drab, faded interior and equally ugly exterior. We selected a room to become the humidor and installed Spanish cedar. We also upgraded electrical wiring, repaired floors and mounted a 4,500 cubic feet per minute whole house fan in the ceiling.
After a surprisingly demanding break from working to attend the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers convention where we set up accounts with most of the popular cigar manufacturers, we returned to continue working on the shop, only now we found ourselves distracted by nearly daily shipments of cigars, pipes, tobacco and accessories. No doubt, unpacking and pricing new cigars is a delightful problem to deal with as we all enjoy filling the humidor shelves. It is also a problem none of us could have anticipated a few short months ago when we faced a bleak future without cigars or a place to enjoy them.
Today we happily find ourselves situated in a uniquely decorated and comfortable shop with a covered deck out back and a full humidor while we tackle a dwindling list of projects and gratefully appreciate a steadily growing customer base. We feel it’s finally safe to declare our store fully open and ready for your visit; a visit we believe will be a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Below are some before and after pictures of the shop. As you can see, much progress was completed in a very short period of time.