OREGON – Barry Skinner likes cigars.
The owner of Oregon’s new Bad Ash Cigars, located at 114 N. River Road, has visited 350 cigar lounges throughout the country and world, knows many people in the industry and used to work for a cigar store.
And, of course, he loves to smoke them.
“I’ve been smoking cigars for a long time, over 40 years,” he said.
The Mount Morris resident recently opened the business after buying the former gun shop just north of Oregon Park East on the Rock River at the end of September last year. He has owned a general contracting business, but his love of cigars led him to open Bad Ash.
Is Oregon ready for a cigar lounge?
“I kind of questioned it myself, whether it would be demographically supported or not,” Skinner said.
But he is now starting to get repeat customers and even some people from the suburbs venturing out to check out Bad Ash.
He has remodeled the inside of the building to make it comfortable for people who want to come in and enjoy a smoke and some conversation. There are comfortable chairs, a couch and tables for people to lounge on. There are TVs, of course, and Wi-Fi is also available in the building. Every table has a cigar lighter and ashtray.
And the conversation won’t be shut down by plumes of smoke, as Skinner has had a massive exhaust system installed.
The goal is to have a relaxed environment that encourages conversation.
“Cigars are the best people connectors I have found in the world,” he said.
And he has plenty of those on hand, with more than 160 open boxes available. He said he can also order cigars that serious customers are seeking – just ask.
Prices range from $3.50 up to more than $16 per cigar. People can buy cigars individually or by the box. There is also complimentary water, soda, coffee and hot chocolate when you buy a cigar to sit and enjoy.
But alcohol is not on the menu.
“I don’t really want to sell alcohol or be involved in that in any way, shape or form,” Skinner said.
He offers humidified lockers for rental annually for $200, where people can store their cigars. Everyone with a locker gets a 12 percent discount on everything in the store.
Also, all first responders and military – active duty and veterans – get a discount.
Skinner, a certified retail tobacconist, has some big plans for the future. He said he plans to build a large deck off the back of the lounge with a great river view. He also plans to have four or five major “cigar events” during the year.
For now, he continues to get the name of the business out and is ready for some warmer weather.
“I think summer is going to be stellar.”