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Written by Kevin Godbee

Wednesday, 09 December 2009

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nat1There’s something about a small retail business that’s been around for over 80 years that tells you they’re obviously doing something right. For Nat Sherman and his family, “doing it right” for his customers has always been one of the most important goals for the company. 

While few people considered it wise to start a business in the middle of the Great Depression the fact that Americans were facing a time of economic hardship didn’t deter Sherman from starting his business right in the heart of the garment center of New York City. While the business started as a partnership with the owner of the Epoca Cigar Factory it wasn’t long before Sherman had bought out his partner and was in business for himself and that’s the way it stayed from then on.

nat2 

While the economic times might have encouraged any new business to target the lower end of the market Sherman set his sights much higher and his premium cigars soon attracted an interesting mix of clients ranging from the wealthy to celebrities and even down to gangsters. Within five years Sherman’s store had become a magnet for those who wanted a premium cigar and even though people came from opposite ends of the social spectrum it seems that Sherman’s store was considered neutral territory where the common interest in cigars brought everyone together.

Sherman wasn’t content to just sell other maker’s cigars and by 1939 cigars bearing Sherman’s own name were being made in Tampa from a blend of Cuban and local tobacco leaf. Shortly after the war Sherman began making private label cigarettes at the request of a client who was banned from smoking cigars on the flight he often took to Dallas. Cigars might have been banned on the plane but smoking a cigarette was fine so the client wanted a cigarette that had the same taste as the cigars he liked to smoke and Sherman was happy to oblige.

From that small start Sherman was to move on to become perhaps even more famous at times for his cigarettes than he was for his cigars but cigars continued to be an important part of his business. During the 1950s he was one of just three authorized distributors of Cuban cigars east of the Mississippi and even today you can find some of those very special Cuban cigars tucked away in the corners of the Sherman humidors.

It’s unlikely that the business will ever part with those finely matured cigars but we can dream of what it would be like to sit back with one of those and fine cognac.





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