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Read about how Smoker Friendly got started with its first store in 1997, and how the brand has grown to over 41 stores.

Smoker Friendly – Our Story

 

How we began

At age 46 I found myself out of a job with 2 kids in college, a big mortgage and a hungry wife and dogs. I had enough socked away to survive for a while but certainly not in the lifestyle to which we had been accustomed. A customer from my previous employer suggested we partner up and start a "chain of cigarette/tobacco stores up and down the valley". Since I wasn’t presently employed and I was the guy with the cigarette/tobacco knowledge and connections it was pretty much "my baby" from the get-go.

The research and development period showed us that it would probably work and we conceived a company that we could possibly grow up to 10 stores. After putting together a business plan with all the market analysis, projections and other "bs" that goes with every business plan, we were able to convince some "not so bright bankers to loan us $100,000 to get started.

On July 7th 1997 we opened our first store in Parkersburg and the first day's total sales were just over $200. The next day's sales were a whopping $100 and I thought to myself (of course)"what have I gotten myself into"? (lol). But the next day sales jumped to over $300 and the next $500 and we were on our way. The 2nd store opened 6 months later and the 3rd in another 5 months. We were opening stores at the rate of 4 to 5 per year.

I recently thought about how we did it but the answer is that we just kept going and didn’t look back. It was a lot of travel and a lot of hours worked but it was also a lot of fun. Some of the people who helped us get the business started are still with us today and I hope enjoying the fruits of their labor a little more than in the early days. After 23 stores were opened we then bought some stores from competitors and continued to grow the business either thru acquisition or start-ups.

We now have 40 stores operating and hopefully over the next few years, as opportunities present themselves we can start growing the business again. It’s truly a family run business now, with both my son and daughter pretty much running things while my wife and I sit back and get fat and old(well, at least I am). A passion for customer service backed up by providing a clean, friendly and pleasant atmosphere in every store has been the foundation on which the company was built and the very name "smoker friendly" says it all!

 

Meet the Team

 

Warning

 


Please note that Smoker Friendly does not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 (or the minimum age in your local jurisdiction, whichever is higher). Note also that it is unlawful to even attempt to purchase tobacco products below the minimum age. If you are not of legal age, please do not enter our site.

WARNING: This product can cause mouth cancer.
WARNING: This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss.
WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
WARNING: Smokeless tobacco is addictive.


 

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