Our Story

The best place to start this story is with this;  Mike and Ken really enjoy visiting and exploring different cigar lounges both in our area locally, and when we travel.  The thing is, as serious cigar enthusiasts, we cannot help but to identify and then eventually start cataloging everything we felt each lounge was doing wrong, or could improve upon.  Eventually, we had talked enough about what a cigar lounge should and should not be, that we ended up talking about starting our own.  

So after doing our homework in market and industry research, startup costs, commercial leases, build-outs, etc. we put together a pretty solid business plan and headed to banks with it in hand.  Here’s where the fun begins…now mind you, we had worked for 5 months on the plan alone!  It was 83 pages of market and industry research, competitive analysis, budgets, forecasts, and itemized costs down to the penny.  In addition, we had no less than half a dozen highly respected and trusted business professionals read and provide feedback prior to submitting to any bank.  

We then started meeting with commercial loan officers and talking about options, timing, etc.  All of their feedback was 100% positive, so we started the actual application process.  Within just a few days we started realizing this was going to be a disaster.  Six banks in all (three commercial lenders, and three SBA lenders) all came back to us with the exact same answer.  We like you guys, we like your plan, but underwriting is not letting us fund startups right now because of the economic outlook.  What a kick in the “cajones”.    

So after slowly getting each answer back over about a 2 week period, we were in the depths of despair.  We had our downpayments ready, mentally we were both ready, and then to be told no was just demoralizing.  Then, sitting in my smoke shed with Ken, with both of us complaining to each other about the situation, we realized what we needed to do.  You see, each bank that had turned us down had said (in so many words) that “had we been an existing business with revenue and cash flow, they would write us a check today”.  

So here we are, taking our down payment money and bootstrapping an online cigar store from the ground up.  The goal always has been, and always will be to open a brick and mortar cigar lounge.  Online sales was always a part of that plan.  We are just putting the chicken before the egg here.

And so this is how the Toro Cigar Company, LLC was born.  

The story is far from over, we have lots of adventure ahead of us and you are welcome to come along and watch the drama, comedy, success and failures as we consider you all family. 

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