Written by Puff Staff

Monday, 09 May 2005

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bennington tobacconistindustry updates

Bennington Tobacconist on St. Armand’s Circle, in Sarasota, Florida has been a landmark since it’s founding in 1965 by Bill Bennington. This small, but well-stocked store has been serving the needs of local residents and tourists alike for the past forty years.

In 1976 two of Bill's sons, Jack and Gary, joined him in the family business. Jack, who had just graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Business Administration, was elected President and sent down to the cigar plantations in Nicaragua to further his education beyond the academics of college. Three years later, in 1979, Bill’s second eldest son Jim, who was an electrical engineer with Florida Power & Light, decided it was time to join the family business. Bennington Tobacconist expanded to Florida’s east coast with the purchase of a store in Boca Raton, Florida. Today, all three sons are still active in the business and the growth continues. Bill remains influential in long term planning, but has turned over the daily activities to his sons. Little did he realize in 1965 that 39 years later his business would be the oldest retail establishment under the same ownership on St. Armand's Circle. 

Bennington Tobacconist
Jack Bennington & Kevin Godbee

Jack, Gary and Jim all bring their own strengths to the business with an emphasis on customer service and community participation. President of the company, the dynamic and debonair Jack J. Bennington (pictured) continues to work hands on in the business along side of a devoted staff that he has trained in the complex aspects of the tobacco business, as well as the strong corporate philosophies that Bennington’s maintains. Jack is continually researching and implementing new methods, products and systems to keep their family business recognized as the best both locally and internationally. Jim has been working hard at the Boca Raton location including creating and publishing a fun and information magazine called “Cigar Society”. He has also incorporated a smoking lounge and a section of private, individual cigar humidors available for customer’s use. Gary oversees daily activities at the St. Armand's store and specializes in mixing the many fine pipe tobacco blends that customers the world over special order.

St. Armand’s Circle was known then, and still is known today, as the "Worth Avenue" of Florida's West Coast.

It has an international reputation of enchanting fine shops and gourmet restaurants set amidst a tropical paradise. The Bennington’s have always selected world-class products for their stores. Famous names such as Dunhill, Cartier, Davidoff, Savinelli, Comoy's and Nat Sherman fill the shelves. Bill also developed his own personal cigar lines, pipe lines, and pipe tobacco blends, many of which are still in existence today. Since St. Armands Circle is located in an upscale resort area with many national and international visitors, the mail order business thrived with orders from their satisfied customers. Toll free phone numbers were installed long before they were common. Bill and his sons knew that service was the key to success and that, combined with honest pricing and exclusive merchandise, caused his small company to grow quickly while gaining a universal reputation as one of the finest tobacco shops in the world.

If your interest is in cigars, Bennington’s carries a huge selection of internationally acclaimed brands such as Davidoff, Padron, Cohiba, Montecristo, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Macanudo, Punch and Partagas to mention but a few. There is also a wide assortment of quality smoking accessories; cigar lighters by DuPont and Colibri, cigar cases, ashtrays, and the largest display of cigar humidors in the state. Pipe smoking is somewhat of a forgotten art in America, but the pipe smoker is definitely not forgotten at Bennington’s. In certain European countries, such as Germany, Denmark, Holland, France, England and Italy, the pipe is still a very popular and economical way to smoke. Successfully catering to their European pipe clientele has kept the tobacco bins brimming and the display walls lined with the finest briar pipes made in the world. (Editors’ Note: I smoke pipes as well as cigars, and encourage you try them, if you haven't already.)

Novice and experienced smokers will both feel at home in the pleasant, welcoming surroundings and extremely friendly, knowledgeable service. Nothing will ever replace the human touch, after all, the unique interaction between two people is an integral part of our humanness. At Bennington Tobacconist on St. Armands Circle it’s reassuring to see that the human touch has not been lost and that hard work, dedication, and pride are still part of the American work ethic.

If you are in Sarasota, be sure to visit their store and tell them sent you. Visit their web site at for a glimpse into the fine world of cigars, pipes, tobacco and products.


+2 # Good PeopleJonathan Drew 2011-05-27 16:56
Great article.

Jim Bennington in Boca is one of the nicest people in the cigar business and has helped many of us manufacturers get started.


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0 # agreem putin 2012-04-07 11:59
Bennington in Boca

Class act.
Great Store.

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+1 # RE: Bennington Tobacconist – Since 1965GDC, LLC 2011-09-26 16:02
For the past 25 years that I know the crew in the St. Armands' store have been pleasant and willing to share their knowledge and expertise in a vey pleasant manner. Well done men.

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