Though smoking has been banned in most public places, DAD’s Cigar Parlor & Tobacco Shoppe offers a welcome respite — at least for smokers of cigars and pipes. Entering the Biddeford business is like walking into the gentlemen’s parlors of old. Here, the regulars sit in comfortable lounge chairs, puff on the stogies and ponder life’s issues — their conversation filling the air along with the curling wisps of smoke being emitted from their cigars.

Q: How long have you owned the shop?

A: Three years. 

Q: Why a tobacco shop?

A: It was a hobby gone wild. I started smoking a pipe (while enlisted) in the Army in the 1970s. I had traveled around the country and visited many different smoke shops and always thought one day, I’d like to own one. I worked in retail for a Fortune 500 automotive aftermarket company. There was a change in corporate. I took a severance package and my wife and I bought the store.

It had been a smoke shop for about 30 years, but it basically sold tobacco. There was no smoking parlor here. As soon as I walked through the door, I knew what I wanted to do with it. I moved the displays out back and set up some comfortable chairs, a few tables, a couch and a coffee table out front.

Q: Is cigarette smoking allowed at the shop?

A: No. But we do sell them here. 

Q: What is the difference between smoking cigarettes and smoking cigars?

A: With cigars, you are not hurrying to get a nicotine fix because you are not inhaling. It’s really a social activity. I have seven or eight guys in here right now, smoking and talking about everything from politics and the economy to family and putting their kids through college. A lot of different types of people come in — from college students to bankers, lawyers and retirees; they really have nothing in common but they come in and start talking and friendships are formed.

Q: Do you have a lot of regular customers?

A: Yes. There are about 200 on the mailing list. Some people come in a few times a day to smoke and talk. I joke that I haven’t really worked in three years. I sell cigars and talk with the guys. It’s definitely the best job I’ve ever had.

Q: Any women customers?

A: Yes. We have a few regulars

Q: Do you have to check identification?

A: Yes. You have to be 18 to legally smoke. But there is a new law that you have to check everyone under age 27.

Q: Is there an official term or title for your trade?

A: Tobacconist. We are a full-service tobacco shop and a member of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

Q: What are some of the favored brands?

A: Ashton, Oliva, Perdomo and a brand new line called Berger Argenti that just came in. I also carry several brands from other tobacco shop owners, like me, who come up with their own blends to sell. I hope to do that someday, too. You connect with a manufacturer to develop your own blend or flavor profile. They wrap them and fit them with your private band.

Q: What else do you sell?

A: We have a full line of premium pipes and tobacco. Pipe smoking is on the rise. It’s a cheaper alternative to cigarettes, and then there’s the nostalgia that goes with it. The smell seems to activate memory. People tell me pipe smoke reminds them of their grandfather. We also sell hookahs and hookah tobacco, which is called shisha; that comes in many different flavors. I also sell humidors and rent them here, much like a locker or a post office box, so the guys can store their cigars here (in a properly humidified environment).

Q: Where do you get your inventory from?

A: I buy most of it direct from (in-country) manufacturers that get their supply from countries all over the world, like the Dominican (Republic), Nicaragua, Columbia and Panama and Honduras.

Q: What makes for a good cigar?

A: It’s all personal preference. It really depends on the blend. Some companies now mix the tobacco, blending Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos to come up with a whole different flavor profile — from mild to full-bodied. Connecticut actually still grows some of the best tobacco in the world.

Q: Do you sell the old cigar boxes?

A: Yes. People use them to make jewelry boxes and clocks. I have one man who makes guitars from them. They are typically made of wood, like Spanish cedar. Though, some are made of cardboard and even glass. This week, we have a line of cigars coming in that are sold in old movie reel tins. We also give them away to people who wish to make a charitable donation. Right now, we’re trying to raise money for the second annual Seagars by the Sea event being held on Sept. 26 in Portland. The money benefits the building or retrofitting of homes for our military veterans. So far, we’ve got 18 to 20 cigar vendors, who are company owners or (representatives) who will give away cigar samples. We’ll also have silent and live auctions there. We hope to raise $10,000 for our troops. 

Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at:

[email protected]