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New Freedom cigar shop owner builds community that goes beyond business

New Freedom cigar shop owner builds community that goes beyond business

  • Therina Himes has grown her tobacco shop and lounge, Freedom Cigars & Tobacco, over the past year, adding a walk-in humidor and thousands of premium cigars.
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For Therina Himes, owning Freedom Cigars & Tobacco in New Freedom isn’t just about selling premium tobacco and top brands. Rather, it’s about building a community around the love of the leaf.

Lounging in a leather sofa on any given Friday, Therina can be found smoking one of her favorite cigars — a Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented or an Undercrown 10 by Drew Estate — with her Freedom family circled around the shop’s lounge.

“I love what I do,” she says. “I love the people who walk through that door. My customers are the ones who get me up and moving every day to do what needs to be done.”

The art of cigars

Therina slipped into tobacco 25 years ago while working for a smoke shop in York. In 1997, the vibe was cool, she says, or at least cool enough for her to buy her own franchise a decade later.

As the novelty of tubes and tie dye wore off, Therina became more intrigued by the world of premium tobacco. She began studying the soil, seed, climate, and geography.

“I really got interested in the whole cigar part of it,” she says, “and the art of cigar-making and what makes a cigar a good cigar.”

In 2010, Therina became a certified tobacconist, a sommelier of the cigar world.

It’s helped her hold her own in a male-heavy field.

“You do get that old-schooler who, because you’re a woman, doesn’t think that you know anything about cigars,” she says. “But I just start spewing my knowledge at them, and then they figure out that I know what I’m talking about.”

‘How important small business is’

The drive to grow her business pushed Therina to open a second location in Hanover in 2011 and a third with her sister and mom in Etters in 2014.

With a desire to be more relationship centric, she dropped the franchise in 2019 and opened Freedom Tobacco & Cigars on Franklin Street in New Freedom, which she owns with her husband, Vinny.

Her cigar clientele took off over the past couple of years — a bump she attributes partly to the pandemic.

“People started to realize how important small business is,” she says. “And if you don’t support it, they may not be around when you need them to be.”

Last year, the shop installed a walk-in humidor with thousands of premium cigars lining the shelves. The back half of the store is a smoking lounge with leather chairs and couches circled around a large television for game days.

“There’s just a camaraderie that you can’t get anywhere else,” she says. “There’s always a welcoming atmosphere that we want to build here.”

Growing the fellowship

While she thought about expanding, Therina realized there weren’t enough hours in the day for her to sit with her leaf-loving communities in Hanover, Etters, and New Freedom.

She had spread herself too thin.

Therina sold the Hanover store in January and doubled down on the New Freedom location, where she wants to focus on growing a community that’s meant as much to her as it does to her customers.

“We’re building a fellowship within our lounge that brings people together regardless of religion, race, politics,” she says. “What matters is the love of the leaf and the relationships they build with each other.”

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