The Cigar Vault is another type of business opening in Wooster
WOOSTER – When Mike Heidelman finally found the perfect building for the cigar shop he dreamed of opening, there was only one problem.
It was a working bank.
“I’m in the bank doing business and I’m thinking, ‘That would be an amazing cigar store. “, he said of that visit to the Chase Bank branch at 601 Portage Road about five years ago.
A few years later, he was able to light a long-awaited cigar of victory. When Chase closed the branch, it made an offer in November and closed the property in March.
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“It’s the realization of a 16-year dream.” he recently said inside the near-complete renovated facility set to open in mid-June as The Cigar Vault, a business the 54-year-old is opening with his 24-year-old son , Michael.
With a laugh and a quick wink at his son, he added, “I’m a horrible dad. I introduced him to cigars at a young age.”
Then with a big smile, he said, “I’m very, very lucky that he followed my passion and now we’re doing it together.”
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Mike said his son is an equal partner, including financially, which helped buy the building.
They can’t wait to bring their passion to the community – and the community is equally excited about their new venture.
“We think The Cigar Vault will be a great addition to Wooster,” said Samira Zimmerly, president of the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce. “This father and son business provides our community with a unique experience unlike anything we currently have in Wooster. Their business will add to the diversity of offerings and quality of life in our community, which will make our area more appealing.”
The journey began in Florida when the Heidelman family lived there
It’s been a long journey to get to this point, starting in Florida where the family lived and where Mike enjoyed the state’s plethora of cigar lounges during some of his free time.
“What drew me to cigars was the culture,” Mike said. “You forget everything that happens in your life except for this moment.”
When he was a kid, Mike said he hated the smell of cigar smoke. Not Michael, who said he loved the visit of his father’s cigar-smoking friends.
Michael, like his father. enjoys the camaraderie and relaxed atmospheres of cigar lounges.
But the “hustle and bustle” of working in South Florida’s real estate industry got too much and the 2008 financial crisis hit, so the family decided to move back to Ohio, said Mike, who is originally from the Cleveland area. His wife of 30 years, Natalie, grew up in Orrville. Michael is their only child.
Although she does not smoke cigars, Natalie is happy that it brings her husband and son together in business, the father and son said. Michael’s girlfriend isn’t a smoker either, but, he said, “she’s about as horny as you can get without being a cigar smoker.”
And she works as a nurse at Wooster Community Hospital in Obstetrics, a hospital ward reminiscent of fathers handing out cigars to newborn babies, which The Cigar Vault will sell along with hundreds of other types of cigars – boxes blue that say “It’s a boy” on the outside and pink with “It’s a girl”.
The Cigar Vault is located near the bustling Community Hospital area of Wooster
The variety of cigar inventory is in their cigar humidor, a humidity-controlled room used to store cigars, built inside the old bank vault; hence the name The Cigar Vault.
“I imagined how cool it would be to have a cigar humidor inside a bank vault,” Mike said.
When customers enter The Cigar Vault, they will be able to see the Wooster Community Hospital, one of the main reasons for the constant traffic in the area, which has father and son excited about the possibilities despite their market research indicating that a successful cigar lounge in a city. of about 26,000 will not be easy.
“The worst case scenario is that we have a large supply of cigars for the next few years and a large amount of real estate,” Mike said.
Ohio isn’t like Florida when it comes to cigar shops, which Mike says seem to have as many as Starbucks. Most major cities in Ohio only have one or two, although Medina, which has a similar population to Wooster, does have one.
When he first returned to Ohio, Mike said, tobacco taxes had been increased significantly. The state also has many restrictions and specifications with cigar shops, such as having to be individual buildings and have some type of ventilation, he added.
These things were some of the reasons Mike took so long to realize his dream. And, of course, finding the right building.
“We searched for years; every time a building was for sale, we checked it out,” Mike said. “We looked at downtown, but nothing hit the mark. It must have felt good.”
The new Wooster company offers hundreds of different types of cigars
In addition to imagining the cigar humidor in the old bank vault, Mike envisions three living rooms with 16 comfy chairs, multiple TVs, lockers, and possibly a patio where the bank’s drive-thru party used to be. . They kept the speaker and chute system so that customers could one day enjoy the fresh air and have cigars delivered through the chutes, which will not be used for a cigar drive-thru, have- they stated.
People still walk through this area thinking the bank is still open, they added with a laugh. Two vehicles at different times during the interview for this story passed.
Neither father and son will quit their current jobs. Mike is in sales for Surreal Entertainment, a local company that sells a variety of products in the United States that are made overseas. Michael is a server and bartender at City Square Steakhouse in downtown Wooster.
Both have special cigars they will smoke once The Cigar Vault opens. Michael has kept his for eight years and Mike will smoke a hard-to-get mark that he only goes out on Christmas Eve to smoke with his son.
With the positive things the two said they heard from surrounding communities like Ashland and on Facebook about their upcoming business and finally having their dream building, there don’t seem to be any issues hindering their June opening.
Except maybe one, Mike quipped as the two each smoked a cigar, “Maybe the biggest issue is we’re going to smoke our entire inventory before we open?”
Contact Jarred at 330-287-1659 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @Jarred Opatz