Name of Shop: Kensington Tobacconist
Date Visited: 03/13/09
Street Address: 450 Penn Ave
City: West Reading
Phone Number: (610) 373-5001
Hours of Operation: Mon. – Sat. 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Location: Above Average
The shop is located off of the Penn Ave. exit on Rt. 422. This is a main thoroughfare through Berks County and makes accessing the shop very simple. As you travel down Penn Ave, it will be on the Left side of the street, on the same corner as the second traffic light. Due to the busy location, street parking is not much of an option. Making a left onto 5th Ave will take you to the rear of the shop where you will find a small parking lot. This is a fairly small lot that is shared with the business next door.
Due to the busy location and business in the area, it is not uncommon to find non cigar shop patron using theses spots. In the event that a spot s not available, there is a strip mall located on the opposite side of Penn Ave. which can be used.
Staff: Above Average
As of this review, the store is run by the owner,Kurt, and is staffed by two part time workers. The part time workers lack the knowledge of the owner but and willing to help where they can. The owner has smoked all of the cigars in the walk in humidor and is comfortable in helping even the newest smoker make a selection.
The only thing to note is the dry sense of humor that the owner exhibits. As a shop regular, I am aware of it and have come to appreciate it. For the new customer, it may not be recognized and taken in the wrong context.
The walk-in humidor is of average size for this area and contains many of the staples that you would expect to find in a cigar shop. Due to the customer base (Average age: Mid 40’s and not active in the online cigar community) it is highly unlikely that hard to find boutiques will be requested and purchased on a regular basis. As a result, you will not find brands like Tatuaje, Illusione, Padilla, Padron 64’s & 26’s, etc. This shop does carry their own house blend crafted by Rocky Patel.
Cigars seem to be stored slightly higher than the typical 70% RH found in your home humidor. This is common among walk-in humidors due to the large air exchange created by opening a door multiple times throughout the day. There are no signs of mold or beetles on any stick placed out for sale.
Pricing is average, as you can expect to pay MSRP for the vast majority of available stock. In the event that you would like to purchase a box that is not stocked, the owner will be happy to order one for you pending they have an account with the particular company.
Due to the layout of this shop, there are four separate rooms available for use. Only one of those spaces is open to the public. That lounge is located in the basement of the building. There are several cushioned chairs as well as two small cafe style tables. With multiple smokers in the room, it can get very smokey. There is both a smoke eater and exhaust fan within this public lounge, both of which can be very noisy.
If you are a member, or pay $5.00 for a day pass, you are given access to the second lounge. This space is located on the second floor of the building. This area is laid out like an apartment and features a large area setup much like a living room. There are several leather chairs, two sofas, and a couple of cafe style tall chairs for seating. There are two window and a quite smoke eater which keeps the room comfortable even with 10+ people smoking.
In addition to the living room style space, there is a smaller room setup with a few chairs, a TV, and an X-box. When the doors to this room are closed, a single window is used for ventilation.
The third, and final, room available is a kitchen style space. This room has four round tables and several chairs for seating as well as a bar (not stocked). This room has two cased openings leading into the living room style space which ventilates the smoke into the smoke eater in the other room. There are three windows for ventilation.
All rooms in the private lounge have a TV of some sort (although the membership rarely uses them). The private lounge and retail space are air conditioned in the summer while the public lounge is naturally cool due to being a basement. The private lounge has a vending machine for beverages as well as a pod coffee machine. The retail space has an espresso machine for hot beverages. The shop regulars are extremely friendly and always make an effort to make new customers feel welcome.
Overall Opinion: Above Average
I have been going to this shop for a few years now. Ever since my first visit, I’ve felt welcomed by the regulars. Cigars are kept in good condition and variety is average. While I would love to see more boutique brands, practically all of the staples are available as well as some of the newer big name cigars (such as the CAO LX2).
At times the shop can become noisy, especially in the spring and summer, due to the Reading Hospital located up the street. As a result, you can expect to hear an ambulance drive past about once per hour. The owner is making an active effort to hold an event once per month in an effort to expose the customer base to new lines that become available.
On several occasions this shop has remained open to private lounge members, after events with cigar reps, for family style dinners. Due to the layout of the private lounge, this makes for a very comfortable and fun time.
Walk-In Humidor (click image to view photo set)