If you have driven up Bloomfield Avenue sometime within the last 30 years, then you have probably noticed a large cigar store Native American greeting you on your way.
The Native American is an old friend to Verona and the long-time mascot of Thee Tobacco Store, located at 405 Bloomfield Ave. in Verona.
The store was opened in 1979 by John Cifune and is run today by his daughter Lisa Testa.
“This year we are celebrating 34 years of being family owned in Verona,” said Testa. “My father has been here since he was a kid.”
Thee Tobacco Store has a steady stream of clients looking to purchase cigars, pipe tobacco, imported cigarettes, rolling tobacco and all kids of pipes, humidors and accessories.
Some of the most popular cigars are Romeo and Julieta, Ashton, Monte Cristo, Padron Anniversary, and Opusx, which only comes out four times a year.
However, Thee Tobacco Store has two main rules. They never sell to anyone under 19 and they don't sell any low-end convenience store-type cigars.
“My father won't sell glass pipes or anything that's considered to be for drug use,” said Testa.
Testa says since there are only the two of them working the store, and the fact that her father owns the building, they're able to keep prices low.
Padrons are one of the more expensive cigars they carry at $17 a piece but some cigars also start at $3.95.
“We also have hand-rolled Dominicans,” said Testa.
Regular customer James Filmore of Montclair comes in often to purchase his camacho cigars.
“I come in because I like her,” he said of Testa. “She is friendly and I'd rather come here for the customer service than order it online.”
“Customers like that we are old-school,” said Testa. “My father won't modernize so it's remained old-time and classic.”
The family is so into their business Testa named her son Griffin, after a cigar company, her dog is named Opus, after Opusx and she used to have a bird named Romeo for Romeo and Julieta cigars.
No matter when you go in, Testa and Cifune are ready to give a good recommendation. Cifune's personal favorite cigar is CAO La Traviata, he says.
When asked why he decided to go into this business, Cifune, a man of few works simply shrugged and said “I've been doing it all my life.”
Thee Tobacco Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.