Owner of The Tobacco Shop of Ridgewood
I have never smoked a pipe or cigar in my life, and yet I am blown away by how Gary Kolesaire runs The Tobacco Shop of Ridgewood, a business he and his wife have owned since 1979. Every single detail is thought through with precision. That includes the window displays, the air filtration system, and of course the exact science to optimize humidity and temperature.
Gary comes from a line of coppersmiths on his father’s side, and the store displays his talents, as he has personally done much of the hands-on craftsmanship. Gary shares his story of buying the store from its previous owner, eventually leaving his day job to run the shop full-time, his battles against unnecessary government regulation, and the risks he took on to continually expand the store.
Gary tells me that moving his store just 100 feet down the block was far enough for customers to spend years thinking he had closed shop and disappeared. I record this episode in the spacious and luxurious Davidoff Lounge, which spans the entire third floor of the building. Gary talks about how the store keeps him energized, mistakes he’s made in the past, and what excites him about the decades to come.