How to Start a Smoke Shop?

Cigarette lovers know that it takes mastery of the art of making cigarettes to come up with a nice blend of smoke. Are you interested in starting a smoke shop? Is there enough demand for a smoke shop in your neighborhood?

If you are business minded and a follower of the art, then a cigarette shop is the right one to start. Here are some tips on how you can pursue this idea.

cigarette and smoke from a store

Cigarette making is more than just a process of manufacturing. Cigarette makers and cigarette lovers consider it an art. People blending a cigar that can give the smoker a unique experience requires experience, passion, talent, a keen sense of flavor and aroma. And so, if you want to open a tobacco retail shop, then knowledge, taste, and appreciation for this product are key factors for the eventual success of your business. To start a smoke store, you must:

  • Find regional distributors and manufacturers from whom you can order selections of boxes of cigarettes and smoking accessories like pipes, hookahs, lighters, and ashtrays. If you want to carry famous brands, you’d have to work harder to get into the circle of elite distributors.
  • Find a location near your target market or where traffic is busy. If you have competition, then find a niche that your business can serve. It could mean you have to deliver a wider variety of products than your competitors, or better customer service through a more knowledgeable staff.
  • Come up with your pricing strategy. Cigarette business is a high markup business. You could put different markups depending on the source of merchandise, directly from manufacturers, distributors or middlemen.
  • Learn from your city office about the requirements needed to start a cigar store. Tobacco and liquor businesses are heavily regulated. You will most likely comply with additional requirements when starting a business. You may or may not be permitted to allow customers to smoke in your store premises. If you would, you will need some certification from your state human services department. Accomplish all the necessary paperwork in order to operate legally.
  • Refurbish your store both to suit the taste of your target clientele and to keep your inventory in good condition. Install implements (humidors) to condition the atmosphere of your shop to protect your stocks. Put decorations and sound system to set the ambiance you want to create for the shop.
  • Buy stocks and fixtures for the store such as drawers, cash registers, shelves and display cases.
  • Capital. During the cigar boom at the turn of the century, a small shop could cost $500,000 to set up.

Setting a smoke shop will be a challenge. You might not get a profit for months on at the start until you can expect up to 20% return on investment. But if you are a cigarette lover, the challenges you’ll meet won’t matter much in your desire to create a shop where cigarette aficionados and would-be aficionados can buy cigarettes and congregate to share experiences about a good nice smoke.

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135 Comments

  • RICHARD MCCLOUD said on November 27, 2009
    I am interested in starting a smoke shop business. what is the chance of starting one in Long Island, NY. what is the legal status of starting a smoke shop in long island ny.
  • Jeffrey Thome said on March 3, 2010
    how do i start a smoke shop in LaGrande OR 97850. US
  • Shawana Phillips said on March 5, 2010
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in Kent, Washington, can you give me any information on this?
  • connie hickman said on March 7, 2010
    I am interested in opening a smoke in plainview tx hale co on the northeast side of town there is not one close by can you give me any information
  • paul j philiposian said on March 11, 2010
    would love to open a small cigar shop and lounge in aston pa how much money you think i need. i have good idea on how to open one but its a little scary i guess. paul j philiopsian. ps is the market good now or no?
  • kayla said on March 11, 2010
    i am interested in opening a smoke shop in fairview alberta canada do you know the legal status on this and what kind of loopholes i would have to pull....
  • Alex said on March 14, 2010
    I would love to open a cigar shop in San Ramon, CA 94583. How much would the start up for my business cost. Also what requirements do I need in order to own a cigar shop and sell tobacco products.
  • Tyson said on March 25, 2010
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in Quinton, Oklahoma, Haskell Co. It is a very small community, but several small communities around it. Any pointers or how to get started?
  • Eric said on March 30, 2010
    I am interested in starting a smoke shop in renton, wa.
  • phillip said on April 16, 2010
    I'm interested in opening a smoke shop in spokane, wa 99207. And would like to know what it takes legally and money wise.
  • Misty said on April 18, 2010
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in a small town around san antonio, or austin texas area somewhere that direction.
  • Tiffany said on May 5, 2010
    Hi, I live in Memphis Tn. I am interested in opening a tobacco store. Does anyone know of a good wholesaler or manufacture? Anywhere in the U.S
  • Ekaese Mckinney said on May 17, 2010
    I'm interested in opening up a smokeshop in Tulsa, Ok. With possibly the help of my tribe.
  • Tim Duroff said on May 26, 2010
    I want to open a small smoke shop with the plans of expansion in the future. Is it true that in the state of washington tobacco business controlled by Korean Community? please response. thanks(no offense to Koreans)
  • WICKED X said on May 27, 2010
    I HAVE THE BAST HERBAL INCENSE I AM WILLING TO SEND A FREE SAMPLE TO ANYONE JUST CALL ME AND TELL ME A SHIPPING ADDRESS 602-621-9184 CHECK OUT MY SITE AT WWW.101EASY.COM I HAVE WHOLESALE PRICING TO SHOP OWNERS.
  • Maggie said on July 1, 2010
    Any help to start a 'smoke shop' in St Marys/Kingsland GA area.
  • Cindy Baker said on July 6, 2010
    I am starting a cigarette/cigar shop in Indianapolis, IN. Who are the best suppliers and how do I contact them to stock the store. Who do I contact for licensing and where are they located. Also, from your experience or those of others, what is a good estimate of the start up costs. Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • Pasquale Conese said on July 6, 2010
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in the Fort Myers, Florida area. Can you give me some idea of where I purchase a walk in humidor, as well as, wholesale distributors for cigarettes and cigars. Also, an estimate of the start up cost would be helpful. Thanks for your help.
  • A.W. Marsh said on July 7, 2010
    Wondering how to start a smoke shop in Steubenville, Oh or Lehigh Acres, fl. Any info appreciated
  • L. Dee said on July 13, 2010
    I own Village Smoke a smoke shop in Atlanta GA and ld like to add a humidor and cigars now. How much money would it be to supply a small 6x4 humidor. I would like to partner with cigar shop owner that would invest in cigar part of business.
  • M Temkin said on July 14, 2010
    i want to open a head shop or metaphysical store in ocala fl what all do i need to do this. I also want to open an herbal incense company in Ocala FL.
  • Michael Hafley said on July 28, 2010
    I'm interested in starting a Smoke shop or a Head shop in Sanford, Michigan 48657 and I was wondering if you can give me any more info. on prices to start and what do I need legally. Thanks for your time.
  • Marcella E said on July 30, 2010
    hi i'm very interested in opening a smoke shop or head shop in chula vista or national city california i was wondering if you could give me some more information on prices to start and what legal processes i'm going to have to take and any other help you can give me would be a great help. thank you for your time. hope to here from you soon.
  • Debbie said on August 2, 2010
    I have worked in a local smoke shop in my area and i had a blast and learned allot about the business as well had fun with the customers and got to know what smokers wanted trouble is we have 2 others in the area not close. I really would have to make it very interesting to make it work. I may have a perspective store already the location would be perfect what do you think? THANK YOU deb from South Thomaston Me
  • siddiqui said on August 3, 2010
    i would like to open smoke shop in pomona ca how much money do i need to open that. and what will be the possibilities to make that happen as soon as possible plzzz thnx
  • Abbas Said said on August 13, 2010
    I would like to open a tobacco and urban store shop in Madison wisconsin, there is a lot of depend for smokes in this location, i dont want to be ruddy but there are lots of black people walking in and out in this neighborhood. this place would be so perfect, it would be right next to Gas station, there are apartments all over. please help, give me advice, how much would it cost me to start up...
  • John said on September 7, 2010
    I am a sales rep for Wellgenix Health. We also own Covert Labs and Puri Clean Enterprises. We manufacture our own lines of Detoxifying liquids. I'm looking for either interested retailers (smoke shops) or distributors. John 800-868-6112 Ext 184
  • thomas kowalski said on September 8, 2010
    I would like some info regarding opening a loose tobacco shop in michigan as well as suppliers for bulk tobacco.
  • Nancy said on September 16, 2010
    I am interested in opening a Smoke Shop in Antlers, Ok. I would like any information that might be useful. I already sell cigarettes at my existing buisness, but am interested in selling more volume and selling by the carton. Other local quick stops in town sell cheaper than me and I understand they get comps from companies or manufacturers.
  • Terry said on September 16, 2010
    I would like information on opening a smoke shop in ohio where you get bulk tobacco and supplies and if we need permits ect
  • Chris Miller said on September 30, 2010
    I am looking into opening a cigar shop in Newark, Ohio or Granville, Ohio and would like any and all information beneficial to such. Are there restrictions as to type of buildings (free standing) as I am interested in a location within the older parts of either Newark or Granville. I like the character of an older building.
  • M. French said on October 23, 2010
    LaPorte, TX USA I want to know how much does Content Insurance cost for a Smoke Shop? Just an estimate will do, I need this to add to the plan.
  • Angie Arp said on October 25, 2010
    I am thinking of opening cigar shop in Blue Ridge, GA. Blue Ridge is a small tourist town in Norht GA and keeps growing, we are only about 1 1/2 hrs north of Atlanta, GA. I need to know how to get started, such as who to contact to purchase products, who I need to contact for permits, how much it will take to open. Who are the best suppliers and how do I contact them to stock the store. I don't want to start large I just want a small cigar shop with a selection of good cigars. Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • laura said on October 27, 2010
    I am from PA and want to know if anyone received and answer to your question on opening a smoke shop? I would like to do this but not sure how. Thank you all
  • L. Dee said on November 8, 2010
    I own Village Smoke in Atlanta I am willing to help anyone open a smoke/ cigar shop in GA as long as your not in direct competition with my store. Call 706-284-2404
  • M.Tannan said on November 30, 2010
    I want to start a smoke shop in Los Angeles, Ca..Please help
  • jake t said on December 10, 2010
    hey is there any license u need to open a head shop gonna open 1 in colorodo 315-286-9345 txt me if u know
  • OWN A SMOKE SHOP said on January 20, 2011
    any one who want to start a smoke shop, we can be a huge help, all you have to do is select the location/shop and leave everything on us, we can get you all licenses requires, furnish your store and would supply you the material. all you need is $25,000 to $30,000 to set up and start a Smoke shop if your location is right trust me you can get all your money back in 3 months. we are manufacturer, importer and distributor of smoke accessories so we can give you regular supplies you can contact us at dimri.manoj@gmail.com or call me at +1-951-6652-461
  • Amr Danial said on January 29, 2011
    Cypress CA, or surrounding area. We are still thinking about opening a smoke shop in the surrounding area. we are expected to have the money by mid year 2011. we are still researching what needs to be done. please let me know what to expect
  • Manoj said on January 29, 2011
    Hey amr, the main thing u need to focus about is the area where u get good walking traffic and the landlord allow to open a smoke shop (also check with city if they allow smoke shop in that area) leave rest on us as we can plan the layout, can put stuff that sell well in smoke shop, apart from smoking pipes, hookah, etc we supply many other things to attract more customers so once u finalised basics let us know at franchise@highzone.biz or info@highzone.biz manojor call me at +1-951-665-2461
  • Omar said on January 31, 2011
    I have a variety of body oils perfumes for both male and female for a free sample call me at 8324668067 leave a message with shipping address and to whos attention
  • Jr said on March 14, 2011
    i just leased a location in austin TX it was going to be like a shirt's and other shit; but we took the location under consideration and its going to be a smoke shop. who has inventory ? i need to buy ? asap E-mail me pictures JC_27@live.com
  • samantha said on March 28, 2011
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in Pinebush NY..There was one there in the same spot, and they made good money, but the parents passed and the Kids let it go into the ground. How would I go about starting it with limited money?
  • Pavan said on March 28, 2011
    I am planning to start a smoke shop in wichita ks. what i have to do first how can i get hold of sales reps of big brands like marlboro or camel. what i a have to do for all those and where can i get this cigarette display racks or shelves..
  • lance said on March 28, 2011
    aberdeen wa. i'm native american and need info on this matter no one wants me to open one
  • rochelle said on April 16, 2011
    We are a distributor in Austin, TX and we do have merchandise available. We have no minimums, you can buy as much or as little as you need. Feel free to call us at: 512/431-9414. ALMOST FORGOT TO MENTION...WE DO MANUFACTURE SOME OF OUR OWN PRODUCTS AS WELL. ZEPHYR HERBAL INCENSE, ZEPHYR KRATOM CAPSULES AND ZEPHYR BLUE LOTUS TABLETS
  • ashar said on April 18, 2011
    we are opening a tobacco shop in north heavens connecticut , need help as we have no knowledge much of this business and are relocating from dubai ..........Please tell us how much investment is required for shop, renovation , racks, staff , inventory along with some information on returns monthly .... thanks
  • Joseph Brown said on May 1, 2011
    I'm looking to open a smoke shop Stockton, Ca where do I start?
  • nickey said on May 4, 2011
    I'm interested in opening a smoke shop i'm fayetteville, nc. On a side of town where there is not one for miles. I need some advise and hoe to info. Where do i begin?
  • daniel said on May 7, 2011
    opening a smoke shop is easy but profit is so less you just work for the landlord and other bills. just small portion of the money goes in your pocket. if you really want to risk your money just buy it an established one some people even let go there shop for free all you have to pay for is merchandise.
  • L.Dee said on May 9, 2011
    I have had my shop open for a year now and I can say it is worth it if you put the time in to make it work. Oh and there is plenty of profit if you know what your doing when you set it up. Which is why you are here in the first place is for info. I would say stay away from cheap advise because it will cost you in the long run.
  • Crystal said on May 11, 2011
    My husband and i would like to open a smoke shop in the same building as our pawn shop in farmington nh. we could use some help on finding out the rules and regulations, also manufacturers. We would appreciate it. Thank you
  • John Harris said on May 12, 2011
    Dallas-Ft Worth Tx. Desire to open a small cigar shop/lounge...later expand...how much does a walk-in humidor cost 15'x15'...how to find a distributor...over all start up cost. Thanks, John
  • Bill Mold said on May 14, 2011
    Palm Coast, FL 32137. I would like to open a smoke shop and need info on who to contact for all my inventory. Names of cigarette wholesalers, cigar, tobacco, pipes, papers, etc?
  • Mark johnson said on May 22, 2011
    I am looking at opening a high end cigar lounge in the KC area. Major brands along with top shelf liquors, single malt scotch, premium beers. Somewhere you could relax after work and weekends to enjoy a good cigar, premium drink, relaxing atmosphere and good music. Any suggestions on where to begin?
  • Nellie said on June 9, 2011
    I need some information about licensing, rules and regulations and star-up costs for a tobacco shop in Athens TX. Thanks, Nellie
  • Dano said on June 14, 2011
    from what i have read starting cost is 500.000. how is someone to have half a million dollars with out going into debt for life ?
  • pankaj said on June 16, 2011
    i want to start smoke shop business in redmond or bellevue (WA) area. please help how we start. pankaj
  • Hiren said on June 18, 2011
    I want to build a cigar store in Lansdale, PA. Will it do good business there. Please help me. Thanks, Hiren
  • Cathy Tonini said on June 18, 2011
    To Washington state people wanting to open a smoke shop, My mom is wanting to sell her store in the Renton area at inventory cost only. Brand new set-up, her husband's health is not good so they want to sell. Email me if interested: cathytonini@yahoo.com
  • Rochelle Thomas said on June 21, 2011
    How do I start a smoke shop business in Las Vegas, NV.
  • Nathan ortego said on June 27, 2011
    I have the money to start a smoke shop in eunice louisiana just need details on how to go about getting the right permits an sure
  • jennifer lee said on July 5, 2011
    I am interested in opening a indian reservation smoke shop in alberta CANADA..i need help...
  • autumn larsen said on July 7, 2011
    I am currently looking into starting a smoke shop in Layton, Utah (Davis County). I have done quite a bit of research and feel confident about how things are progressing. However, I am having a problem figuring out where to get inventory. Any suggestions?
  • Rachelle and Tyler said on August 9, 2011
    We are looking to open a smoke shop in Centralia, WA 98531... There arent any other smoke shops.. But the reservation is about 15 min away and they have cheap smokes.. We'd like to open the smoke shop next to the liquor store..
  • Shaun said on August 23, 2011
    Hi I am a distributor of Gamucci Electronic Cigarette's. We are headquartered in London and have our warehouse in FL. Interested parties can contact me on 1 866 634 1024 or email me at shaun@gamucci.com . One thing I can assure you is the quality of the products and the best pricing in the market.
  • Joe said on September 4, 2011
    People....if you really want to open a smoke shop, you need to start by writing a business plan! You have to remember; a smoke shop is fun, but it is still meant to make money. Unless you are ready to work the shop for many hours all on your own, live off hot dogs and ramen noodles, and cut ties with anyone you once knew....you should probably rethink opening a smoke shop. Whether its a cig store, a restaurant, a garage, whatever; you have to be ready to deal with a lot of red tape and people holding their hands out along the way to get things done in a timely fashion. Take it from someone who has one open.......Dont get involved unless you have prepared for at least 6 months! Good Luck....you'll need it!
  • Hans said on September 17, 2011
    Completely agree with JOE!! It will take dedication and hard work. This is true for any and all businesses.
  • Tabitha Jones said on September 18, 2011
    Hi, I live in Memphis,TN and I'm interested in opening a smoke shop where can I find wholesale distributor's?
  • Nichole said on October 3, 2011
    I'd like to start a head shop/hooka lounge in Austin Tx. How much money would I have to come up with before hand?
  • Karen said on October 18, 2011
    I Agree with Joe too!!! The Tobacco Tax went up big time in Texas and Incense Banned in Texas good luck people you will need it :/
  • Chris Wood said on November 18, 2011
    Las Vegas Nevada. That tobacco tax sucks!!! Good for the public health though, I guess.
  • Wilz said on November 28, 2011
    I am planning to start a smoke shop in Kansas City Mo. What do I have to do first how can i get hold of sales reps, numbers to distributor, sponsors, investor, franchise of big or small brands like marlboro or camel,cigar's ,wraps etc.. What do I have to do for all these and where can I get the cigarette display racks or shelves and etc..
  • Gary A. Cameron II said on November 28, 2011
    I am going to open a Indian smoke shop in Tulsa ok I have the perfect location just need to know all the regulations and contacts to get a hold of.
  • Trisha said on December 21, 2011
    Wanting to start a smoke shop in reno, nv - where do I begin in writing up a business plan?
  • Adam Awad said on January 1, 2012
    I am currently looking into starting a smoke shop in louisville, ky with a friend.I am having a problem figuring out where to get inventory. Any suggestions? and iam confused about the location i should choose
  • paula said on January 6, 2012
    I am looking to open a smoke shop in NewYork. Any way i could get information on getting started from u?
  • Linwood Hall Jr said on January 10, 2012
    I would like my business location to either be in lower MD, or Hampton Rds Virginia area! Just would like some general information. V/R Linwood H!
  • Greg R said on January 31, 2012
    Hi, I have an interest in a Tobacco Startup Store in and around Morrisville P.A. I had a Couple of owners there tell me, Its Big Bucks if you set it up right. Do I need a P.A. Address to apply for State Licensing and Sales Tax? I have a ton of questions, and would be willing to Compensate someone who knows all about this type Business
  • Jessica M said on April 2, 2012
    I am interested in opening a smoke shop in McAllen or Edinburg TX. What are the requirements needed and how do I get started.
  • kevin said on April 24, 2012
    I'm interested in opening a smoke shop in San Diego CA how much money do I need to come up with before hand? How do I stock the shop? and how do I get started?
  • ken said on May 13, 2012
    I am interested and would love to open up a smoke shop in Brentwood Ca as well as i would like to know all the in and outs. How would i start as well as how much money will i need to start a little shop to get me started. thank you
  • Chuck said on May 21, 2012
    Looking into opening a smoke shop in Santa Ana, CA and could use some suggestions.......start up cost, suppliers, risk, etc !
  • Ariana Johnson said on May 22, 2012
    i am opening up a tobacco shop in clarksville TN. i was wondering if you could give me some suggestions and how i could get a hold of good vendors. thank you
  • charles smoot said on June 26, 2012
    I live in south milwaukee wi and i would like to open up a small smoke shop/ What would it cost me / to open one up
  • Debra Fratesi said on July 3, 2012
    I would like to open a roll your own cigarette store in Toms River New Jersey. What kind of income do these stores make
  • brian mask said on July 25, 2012
    i'm a native america and would like to open a smoke shop here on MY Reservation , and need help i wasted two looking at on line cigarette , only i can't resell them
  • Sean Novillo said on August 8, 2012
    I am a federally recognized native american from long island NY and would like to open a smoke shop in Tacoma wa on the puyallup tribe reservation. What are the first steps I need to take? Is this even possible?
  • Dennis Aquila said on September 12, 2012
    I want to open a smoke shop in Miami Fl. In the Kendall area. There is one about three miles away in a business district. I want to open mine in a shopping center with a popular grocery store anchor. I just need to know the requirements in Florida and my start up cost also how do I find distributors for my products?
  • Ryan Smith said on October 23, 2012
    I am looking to open a Cigar club in Ft Wayne , IN. I am willing to start small and work hard to build it up. I am putting my business perspective together now. What is the best way to find investors? Great new market with little to no competition from a club perspective.
  • Stan Madeo said on November 7, 2012
    Lansdale Pa. would be a rather tough market in my eyes.... You would be catering to a unique market. Lower end cigar market due to the average wage. You would be better off in Jim Thorpe or closer to the resort. You might want to try the idea of a mobile cigar lounge and work with restaurants for parking space and with Split Rock to have it during their events.. Not cigarfest.. lol... but their beer events etc... and work out an agreement with the golf courses in the area.
  • magicians INC said on November 20, 2012
    nc : starting a small smoke shop all i need is a zensence wholesaler does anybody know anything about them? i have tax id all that is required for legal distribution
  • yogesh said on November 28, 2012
    i will have c-store with cigarette license and selling all type of cigarettes and some cigar. i like to make this store just dedicated to smoke shop. I NEED HELP TO FIND MAJOR DISTRIBUTOR WHO CAN SUPPLY ME PRODUCT FOR SMOKE SHOP
  • ottograf said on November 28, 2012
    looking into starting a smoke shop in rice lake, wisconsin, any suggestions?
  • countryboy said on December 1, 2012
    i'm from shawnee ok i'm thinking of opening a smoke shop. what information can you give me?
  • Michael said on December 5, 2012
    I am with one of the largest smoke shop botanical suppliers in the U.S. 'Experience Alternatives'. Top-sellers right now are kratom, salvia & Vicozen. Call Michael @ 1800-259-4228 for more info!
  • VP said on December 8, 2012
    I am opening a smoke shop in Gastonia, NC. I am interested to get information on vendors from where I can buy cheap tobacco products. Would you please help me out with this that would be great! Thanks, Vimal
  • kishan said on February 24, 2013
    like to open cigar store in ga. please help me how to do.
  • Danielle Brown said on March 11, 2013
    I am trying to open small tobacco shop in Dallas Texas Need help and a few answers on a few Questions
  • charlie said on April 5, 2013
    I am trying to open up a smoke shop in Am Samoa need help to set it up and vendors that will willing to supply and help me with other product like e cigarets.

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