Generations of young Boise men, some of them still in high school, bought their first cigars at Hannifin’s Cigar Store, located in the same spot at 11th and Main streets since 1908.
“It’s the same place their daddies and grandfathers bought theirs,” owner Stan Minder said.
Minder, who has operated the store for 11 years, held a going-out-of-business sale Monday. He’s closing the shop, kitty-corner from The Owyhee and down the street from the Neurolux bar and the Record Exchange, sometime on Wednesday.
“My landlord wants more money and I can’t afford it,” Minder said in an interview at the store. “Everyone’s trying to make a dollar, and rents are getting more expensive.”
The property is owned by the Sumner Trust of Lafayette, California. A telephone listing was not found.
A sign on the window announcing the closure caught Hannifin’s customers by surprise.
“It’s sad to see another old place close,” said Dan Cubero, who works down the street and who has frequented the shop for a couple of years.
The first time Cubero came into the shop, he asked Minder to recommend a premium cigarette for him to try. Cubero wanted to try something different from the mass-market American brands but didn’t know what to buy. Minder suggested Dunhill, a British brand, and that started a business friendship between the two men.
“It’s a place I like to go in, even through they may be a little more expensive than some other shops,” Cubero said.
His girlfriend, Haley Hill, said she often meets Cubero at the shop, even though she doesn’t smoke. She praised Minder for his friendliness.
“It makes me want to smoke cigars,” she said.
John B. Hannifin began working at a tobacco shop owned by Edmund Salmon in 1907, when Hannifin was 11 years old. Salmon, who opened his shop, then on 8th Street, in the late 1800s, moved to 1024 Main St. in 1908. Hannifin bought the shop in 1919, according to former Idaho Statesman reporter Anna Webb in her book “150 Boise Icons.”
The Hannifin family sold the shop in the late 1960s, but the store retained its name. The shop also has vintage posters and the same wood floor it had a century ago.
U.S. Sen. William E. Borah was among a long line of politicians, boxers, ditch diggers and wrestlers who came to the shop, Webb wrote. Employees from CenturyLink, Wells Fargo and Neurolux and other Downtown businesses were among Minder’s customers. He said they were loyal to him even though they could find the same products cheaper elsewhere.
Minder said he became close to many of his customers, who he said treated him like family.
“It’s almost like being a bartender back here,” he said as he stood behind the counter. “People open up to you and tell you their problems. That’s what makes Boise — the people.”
Allan Ansell, owner of Allan R. Ansell Photography, which has a shop nearby, was among a number of friends and customers who stopped by Monday afternoon to say goodbye. He lamented that he hadn’t taken a portrait of Minder.
“I’m sorry to see you go,” Ansell told him.
A customer who identified himself only as Ted, because his employer has a no-smoking policy, bought three packs of Marlboro menthol cigarettes.
“I think it’s terrible that Stan is leaving,” he said. “This place has character and urban renewal is taking away history. It’s really sad.”
The shop’s closure was first reported by BoiseDev.com.