Fox News Ruined My Cigar Shop

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Fox News Ruined My Cigar Shop

Kensington Tobacconist Lounge 3

It seems like it was only yesterday that Kensington Tobacconist closed its doors for the last time. It has been a few years but I think fondly of the shop. I spent a great deal of time there over the years and die a little inside every time I see what it has become – A Subway Restaurant.

One of the unique aspects of Kensington was the layout of the shop itself. The retail space was on the main floor while the public smoking lounge was in the basement. The lounge was a bit dark, it smelled of stale smoke, and the ventilation wasn’t great, but it was our space to sit and solve all the world’s problems.

Conversation was generally lively or entertaining enough to hold your attention. Cell phones were rarely out and there was no television to distract you – the lack of TV was deliberate as the lounge-goers preferred not to have one. All that changed later on when a private lounge was opened on the second floor.

The lounge was a tremendous upgrade. Seating was comfortable, windows let in plenty of natural light, and the ventilation system was far better. An additional perk to the lounge was a television set with cable package. It wasn’t long before the ‘No TV’ policy went out the window and it was on around round the clock.

Kensington’s Private Lounge became Fox News Central and I slowly began to loathe it. Conversation shifted from stories about our everyday lives and the happenings around town to politics. There wasn’t much in the way of bickering, not in the beginning anyway, but slowly the discussions grew heated and became more frequent.

I don’t recall when it happened exactly but one day I simply had enough. The private lounge wasn’t fun anymore and I got far more enjoyment out of hanging out in the retail space with the shop owner. There was a little animosity at first. Some of the guys saw the situation as me turning my back on the crew. There were a few awkward moments but the cigar shop was suddenly fun again.

When Kensington Tobacconist closed I was homeless as far as a cigar shop was concerned. Many of the regulars shifted to a newer shop across town but I didn’t follow suit. I fell out of touch with the guys and began buying practically all of my cigars online. The situation remained the same for quite a while before I moved and began frequenting a new shop.

For the past couple of years it has been just like old times. We talk, we laugh, and we carry on having a good time. Even though the shop is fantastic, sometimes I worry. Lately, more often than not, I arrive at the lounge and am greeted by the sounds of Fox News. Perhaps the election season has more people talking politics? Perhaps I’ve just grown sensitive to the topic? Perhaps I’m just imagining things?

Whatever the case, I’m sick and tired of politics. Between the shop, Facebook, Twitter, and the Local News, I get more than I can stand. I’d hate to have to start avoiding my favorite cigar shop because it was no longer a place to unwind with the guys and enjoy myself.

enjoying cigars since 2005

16 thoughts on “Fox News Ruined My Cigar Shop

  1. I hear ya Walt, I miss the old days with Kurt, and I too am not the biggest fan of TV in the Shop. I know the Suburban has different rooms 2 with T.V.’s and 1 and a half with out (1 has a bar) I normally avoid the tv rooms so I can enjoy some conversation with the boys. Thanks for bring up some good memories.

    1. Corey,
      One of these days we need to get together for a cigar. Every time I pass Suburban they are closed. I drive right past it on my way home and it is crazy to drive all the way back up there later when they open.

      My home shop has a TV in the public lounge and one in the private lounge. The public lounge TV is used more for music than anything else (he has a Roku setup to play Pandora through the sound system).

      The TV is great when you are there alone. Gives you something to do, besides staring at your phone, until someone else comes in. Also makes for a few laughs when you watch COPS as a group and they pull the 65 year old cross dresser out of the car and he is begging them to let him change before they take him to jail…. lol

      Most times I’d just prefer to not watch it and talk. I’m around a 5 year old an awful lot. I’m not complaining, I just like to have an adult conversation from time to time.

  2. Yup, my hangout had a TV up front but he took it out. I am there to socialize. There are multiple TVs in the private lounge but I usually just stay downstairs to tell lies and smoke cigars. Enough people have phones, tablets and laptops that they can entertain themselves if there is no TV now.

    Another place I go to has a TV but its on for Sports and thats it. I can get behind that.

  3. Walt,
    I can fully understand your position. I try not to focus on the political front, just not my preference.
    I worked at a shop in Virginia, and it was a positive tv experience. We had four 50″ tv’s, and we would always cater to the variety of members views. Fox, CNN, LPGA, and Car racing of some sort was the usual 4.
    Never did we have arguments, heated discussions, etc. It was shop policy to have all tv’s muted. Background music (jazz, blues, Latin, Rock) was always played.
    Maybe that made the difference? I think so.

  4. Hey Walt,
    I hear ya!…..though I much more prefer adult conversation myself and sports in general, it is inevitable politics will be brought up with all the testosterone flowing here…..I don’t believe anyone’s intention is to make anyone fell uncomfortable, I know I don’t personally, but respect opinions of those that are on the complete opposite spectrum of mine…….I don’t know how to remedy the situation but know I’m always available as a diversion…..just ask
    Sorry for the uncomfortableness….let’s play pool!
    Don’t know about you guys but this can’t get here soon enough!

    1. Jay,
      It isn’t an issue of being uncomfortable due to the topic of discussion (I have my views, others have theirs – it is what it is). The issue becomes living a real life Groundhog Day where it is the same talking points over and over again.

      It can be maddening at times.

  5. Yeah, this has pushed me out of more than one suburban lounge – circle of dudes staring at a TV, one turns to the new guy (me) and starts going on about the latest political hype, demanding agreement and commensurate outrage.

    GUY ON FOX: [Says something]
    GUY IN LOUNGE: See, that’s what I’m talking about! You hear that? [Repeats what the guy on TV said] That’s just typical, right?
    ME: Can you pass the ashtray over here?

    This is not conversation.

  6. That drove me away from my local shop also
    Too much CNN & Fox news. No peace to smoke. So I went to online ordering.

  7. The great thing about my local hang out is that though the TV’s are on, the sound is not. It gives you something to look at if you don’t feel like socializing, but isn’t nearly as disruptive to the peace. I’m fond of watching crazy fishing shows like River Monsters and Monster Fish with the sound off through a nice cigar smoke haze.

  8. Hi Walt – In my opinion, a cigar shop is about the people. I thoroughly enjoyed the old days at Kurt’s in the basement, much more than the lounge upstairs as well – primarily because I liked the crowd. I also do not care for the TV being on 24/7, regardless of the content. To each his own, but if I’m traveling and I locate a shop in a distant city, 9 out of 10 times it’s just a bunch of guys staring at the TV. If there is a game on and that’s what the guys are there for, fine – otherwise turn it off, it seems like such a waste to me – but once again, to each his own – I just don’t understand it.

    One of the best cigar shops I’ve ever enjoyed was back home in Haddonfield, NJ – Nero’s. Mikey Black ran his shop with a TV in the back for those who needed it, but out front it was showtime. Music pumping, whether it was Sinatra, Studio 54, Blues, Jazz or his favorite, Caliente! We were there to hang out, talk about the world, sports, food, scotch, the old days and watch Mikey tune somebody up – he was a natural comedian, professional shit-stirrer. He wouldn’t allow any nonsense, and if someone was causing issues, he would tell them to GTFO and don’t come back. He was fiercely loyal to the concept that we are there to relax, enjoy good fellowship and have a few laughs – he wanted to protect his regulars from the nonsense and drama that some people are prone to bring. We’re there to bond and relax.

    I measure every shop to that standard. Unfortunately Mike passed on last year and Nero’s is now a memory. I miss that place, but more importantly I miss the man – he was a prince among men.

    Thanks for the thought provoking commentary.

  9. Rush Limbaugh ruined my barber shop. It wasn’t so much that it was on, I get that everyone has a right to his/her opinion. The for me was that the barber who owned the shop would comment on everything that was said. It just got to be too much for me.

    My local cigar shop has a TV in the smoking lounge but I’ve never seen it on. I think the patrons prefer visiting with one another. I know I do. There is also a policy allowing outside beverages, which is very nice. I am like you, though, Walt. I now order most of my cigars online.

  10. That is the only reason i am not a huge fan of cifar lounges there is nothing worse than a cigar to relax and talk politics because there is no right or wrong

  11. Walt good to see you submitting more posts to the site. Yeah, I have had the best experiences at shops where either the TV was muted with captions running or sans TV. Politics especially can pollute the smoking environment. Hopefully shop owners read this and take note otherwise sadly more business will be going elsewhere.

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