Bryan Roth has his sights set on being a financial trader by morning and Hawleyville cigar store proprietor by afternoon.
The 38-year-old Newtown resident, and his business partner, Ray Ormsbee, 48, have been working furiously the past few weeks in preparation for the Friday opening of the at 27 Hawleyville Road, a two-story house built in 1850 and in the most recent past was home to a yoga center.
The store will be set up with retail cigar displays in the front, and a side room where customers can smoke. In the back will be a members-only cigar lounge with a kitchen, flat screen high definition televisions, arcade and shuffleboard and other game tables. Access to humidified cigar lockers also will be available for additional membership fees.
“It gives anyone a chance to get away and smoke and be in a coffeehouse-like setting,” Roth said.
Smoke will only be allowed in a side room and back membership lounge, both of which are outfitted with numerous smoke-eaters intended to keep cigar smoke from building.
Roth said he wanted the store to be inviting to anyone who doesn’t want to be around the smoke but wanted to purchase cigars as gifts for family or friends.
“Purifying the air is very important to us,” Roth said, adding his wife, Dana, will be working in an office above the store and did not want to be exposed to the smoke all day.
The couple moved from New York City to Newtown about five years ago. An avid cigar smoker, Roth said his trading business had started to slow when he hit upon the idea of opening up the store and lounge.
While the economy is in a recession, Roth said he felt confident cigars were one luxury that still had an audience based on surveys he had read and his own experience.
“Cigars and pipes are making a little bit of a comeback and at the same time you have less and less spaces you can smoke in,” he said. “That is part of the problem. People are smoking in their basements.”
Roth said there were several shops nearby where he could buy cigars but none that offered the lounges available in southern Fairfield County, New Haven and Manhattan. When he moved to town, that was one characteristic that struck him as lacking and provided him a niche business opportunity.
“If I can do the same as one of those shops and have the added revenue, it will be a hobby that pays and that‘s why I went ahead and did it,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great business.”
Roth said his plan will be to continue trading during the morning and then tend to the store at noon when it opens.
About 14 people already have expressed interest in the special humidified cigar lockers. In addition to access to the lounge, members will receive a 10-percent discount on anything in the store. Initiation fees start at $299 with monthly membership dues of $35. As part of a grand opening promotion, membership fees will be discounted 50-percent.
The name “Big Buddha Cigar Lounge” has a double meaning for Roth, who inherited from his grandparents a couple of Buddha statutes, which then led to his own appreciation for collecting them, particularly during his travels through Asia. Soon after, he was known as the “Buddha guy.”
In opening his store, Roth, whose business card has his title as chief enlightenment officer, said he wanted to create an atmosphere where people could unwind and slow down from life.
“Cigars for me has been my downtime,” he said, adding he wanted to bring that same experience to the lounge.
The store is set to host a .