October 2006

Tobacco Road

Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons

“It takes awhile to smoke a cigar,” said Mickey Fulton, owner of Tobacco Road. “You have to be attentive to it. I think that’s why they’re associated with relaxation. It’s not something you can rush through. People talk about them – how they’re made, their history. It’s a lot like a fine wine or liqueur.”

Tobacco Road has been helping Islanders unwind with a good cigar for six years. In addition to the quality cigars, the store also provides a soothing atmosphere, complete with a sofa, tables and chairs, that’s reminiscent of a lodge with its cigar-store Indian and tobacco leaf décor. “There are quite a few guys who stop in almost day every day after work and buy a cigar and relax awhile,” smiles Mickey.

Cigar aficionados will find familiar brands like Cohiba, Punch, Padrón, Montecristo, Machanudo and Ashton Cabinet on the shelves of Tobacco Road. Over the years, Mickey has built the relationships with fine quality cigar companies that allow her to offer rare specials and brands that aren’t necessarily available in any tobacco store. Cigar novices can rely on the expertise that Mickey has built from years in the business to find just what they’re looking for.

“It’s more complicated than people think,” she said. Quality can be influenced by a variety of factors — from where the tobacco was grown to the quality of the leaves that comprise the binder and wrap. The majority of the cigars in Tobacco Road have been hand-rolled in Central or South America.

“At the beginning of the cigar craze in the early ’90s, everyone wanted mild cigars,” she said. “Now they’re moving to more full-flavored.” She also sees more people experimenting with flavored cigars; kahlua, amaretto and rum are among the most popular choices. While some customers have a particular brand loyalty, others like to shop around and try different brands.

“I like the interaction with people,” said Mickey. “I really get excited about new brands and introducing them to people.” While most of her customers are locals, she sees a number of tourists who return each time they visit the island.

The inventory is not limited to cigars. Tobacco Road also sells imported, specialty cigarettes, as well as popular domestic brands, and smoking accessories, including ashtrays, lighters, cutters, humidors and cigar and cigarette cases.

Mickey has been in the tobacco business for close to two decades. She and her late husband Don owned 11 tobacco stores in the Kansas City area before they relocated to Hilton Head Island in 1999. “Our goal was to live at the beach,” she said. “We just loved it here.” They opened a single store on New Orleans Road in 2000; four years later they relocated to their current location. Mickey is there most days, and her daughter Jamie works part-time.

Tobacco Road
119B Arrow Road
341-6265

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