A Cuban cigar maker in Gulfport?
Yep. Carlos Padrón of Tampa has set up shop in Gulfport’s Tuesday Fresh Market, expanding even further the offerings of the city’s most popular weekly attraction.
The Tampa-based cigar maker’s booth was busy on Tuesday, February 14 as cigar smokers of all ages and sexes stopped by to view his wares and invariably make a purchase.
Gulfport resident and business owner Jason Miller was among those sampling and praising Padron’s handmade products.
“It’s great that he’s here,” Miller said as he purchased ten Toro maduro cigars. “He’s got good, fresh cigars. I’ll be back.”
Roger and Mary Shafer of Monroe, Ohio, were already back on Tuesday, buying six Sublime maduros. They said they had come the previous week, too.
“Maybe we’ll see you next week,” Mary told Carlos as the couple headed off with their purchases in a little bag.
Steve Derry of Pittsburgh didn’t wait to sample the torpedo double-wrap maduro he had just bought; he lit up right there at the booth.
“This cigar is excellent,” he said as he tipped his head back and puffed. “Very smooth.”
When he wasn’t attending to his customers, Padrón, 59, sat at his table, his fingers flying as he skillfully assembled the various types of cigars that populate his display cases and talked about how he got to be where he is.
Originally from a tobacco-growing area of Cuba where he spent decades planting, harvesting and curing tobacco and making cigars, Padrón arrived in Florida around six years ago, he said, seeking to “find the land of freedom.”
Three years after landing in the U.S. he had saved enough working for others to start his own cigar business. He calls it “El Guajiro Cigars” – Guajiro is a Cuban term for someone who works the land.
The tobacco industry is heavily regulated by the federal government, he said, but he continues to work hard and expand. Demand is so high he can hardly keep up with his orders, he said.
“People like it a lot,” he said of his product. “They like the tobacco.”