Yesterday, The Cigar Authority reported that Famous Smoke Shop would be sold to a group that was made up of the parent company of Oliva and the founder of Cigars International.
Two of those parties have told halfwheel that that report is not true.
The Cigar Authority reported that Famous Smoke Shop, one of the world’s largest cigar retailers with mail-order operations and a physical storefront in Pennsylvania, was being sold to a group that was made up of J. Cortès, owner of Oliva, and Keith Meier, a founder and former owner of Cigars International.
Arthur Zaretsky, owner of Famous Smoke Shop, told halfwheel “None of it is true.” He left a comment on The Cigar Authority post that described the story as “false information.”
Cory Bappert, ceo of Oliva, told halfwheel that the report was false and “we didn’t buy Famous.”
The Cigar Authority has modified its story a bit. The original headline read, “Famous Smoke Shop Expected to be Sold to Oliva Cigars” and it now reads, “Sources Speculate Famous Smoke Shop Expected to be Sold to Oliva Cigars.”
Over recent years there have been bids to buy Famous Smoke Shop, but sources told halfwheel that after a formal bidding process a few years ago Zaretsky opted to not sell the company. J. Cortès was one of the companies that made bids according to multiple sources.
Famous Smoke Shop is the largest cigar retailer that is not owned by a company that also owns a cigar manufacturer. Cigars International and Thompson are owned by the same company that owns General Cigar Co.; JR Cigar is owned by the same company behind Altadis U.S.A.; Holt’s is owned by Ashton.