How A Retired Firefighter is Creating a Cigar Culture

Andrew Dodson /// 10/19/2021

On the surface, Gary Flynn and his wife Leslie are opening a new cigar bar and redeveloping a century-old historic building in the downtown square of Paris, Texas.

But when you press the retired firefighter on what he truly hopes to accomplish, his goal is clear.

“Most people don’t realize what we’re really doing,” Gary Flynn said. “We’re creating a cigar culture in Paris. We’re changing minds about the art of cigars. We’re teaching people what they need to know about cigars. And we’re building this unique community that’s going to honor the town’s past and pave the way for a vibrant future.”

As they work to open Rigby’s Cigars — the brick-and-mortar cigar lounge named after the couple’s Jack Russell Terrier — the Flynn’s have been busy with their cigar bar marketing to build brand recognition. That includes setting up shop inside retail shops, like the Harley-Davidson dealership in the Northeastern Texas town, and at community events.

Last month, the couple invested in a 13’x26’ MONARCHTENT from TentCraft to have a bigger presence at its pop-up events. Before buying the tent, the company would set up a few tables inside a building, like the motorcycle dealership.

“People couldn’t find us when we were inside,” Flynn said. “Now they definitely can find us.”

Flynn admits he may have purchased “too big” of a tent at 13’x26’, but said he appreciates how it lets his customers spread out and relax with a cigar. He added he was surprised by the weight of the tent — which weighs about 170 lbs. — saying it took four people to safely unload and set it up.

While the tent’s custom-printed canopy is great for building brand awareness, the shade it provides is actually critical for a cigar business. Direct sunlight dries out cigars and causes them to become brittle, in addition to fading the wrapping.

“You absolutely need shade to protect the cigars if you’re going to be outside,” he said.

Redeveloping a Historic Building

When Flynn says his business is a nod to Paris, Texas’ past, he really means it. The building he and his wife purchased two years ago in Paris’ downtown square was constructed in 1916 — three years after the entire downtown burned to the ground. The building’s first tenant? CP Johnson Cigars. For the next quarter-century, the business operated as a cigar lounge and retailer.

Much to Flynn’s delight, the company’s original humidor was still on the third floor. The couple is currently restoring it to its former glory and will put it on display.

The couple hoped to have been open by now, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent supply chain shortages proved to be a challenge for sticking to a timeline. As part of the redevelopment, the Flynns removed the existing second floor to create 16-foot ceilings in the cigar lounge and are converting the third floor into their personal living space. They are confident the business will open in 2022.

In addition to cigars, the business also obtained a liquor license to serve whiskey, wine, and craft beers — with hopes of becoming a destination not just for Paris, which has a population of about 25,000 people, but also surrounding communities, which brings the population pool closer to 80,000.

Cigar Bar Marketing: An 'Impressive' Smoking Tent

Rigby’s Cigars’ MONARCHTENT has a fun custom-printed canopy, featuring a larger-than-life-sized portrait of the couple’s dog. Flynn said the quality was clear from the moment he took the tent out of its storage bag.

“The tent is really impressive,” he said. “The best part is that you can easily see it from the main road, which is important for us.”

The large pop-up tent isn’t going into storage when the cigar lounge officially opens. Events are expected to play a big part in growing the business’ bottom line. That means not only continuing with the retail pop-ups and community events, but also special events, like weddings.

“Wedding venues don’t allow you to smoke cigars indoors, so we can take the tent and set up outside the venue as a mobile cigar lounge,” Flynn said.

And those special events will grow what’s already turning into a pretty loyal following. The business has its own “smoke club” geared toward locals who plan to frequent the business. To date, more than 150 people have signed up.

How TentCraft Can Help Your Business

TentCraft has worked with more than a dozen cigar lounge businesses over the years, so we understand the challenges those retailers face. Whether you run a cigar bar or some other kind of business, TentCraft can help you come up with solutions to make sure your brand sticks out in a crowd. From our pop-up tent experts who offer you concierge-style service throughout the entire transaction to our hard-working team of engineers, TentCraft is skilled in developing custom tents and structures that solve your hardest event marketing problems. Contact TentCraft today to create something great.

About TentCraft

We’re more than just custom pop up tents — TentCraft is a premium fabricator of all things experiential marketing and outdoor advertising. If it combines metal, fabric and print our team of skilled craftsmen can transform any napkin sketch or wild idea into a fully realized project. Serving the biggest brands on the planet as well as your local High School, if you want the perfect blend of quality and American craftsmanship, we’ve got you covered.