The Wall Street Journal reported the bad news.
To step into the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan is to step back in time, say fans of the 90-year-old tobacco emporium.
It is a place where smoking isnâ€™t only allowed, but also is encouraged. The store sells all manner of high-end tobacco items, from hand-rolled cigars to premium cigarettes, including some that it produces under the Nat Sherman banner.
In days gone by, its customers included such boldface names as Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne and Henny Youngman. Even now, store employees say chief executives, prominent politicians and athletes are among the regulars.
But Nat Sherman is soon to become a piece of history itself. The store, which is owned by tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., is closing Sept. 25, company officials said.
Nat Shermanâ€™s own brand of cigars, including its Timeless line, also is being discontinued. But Altria will continue to produce and market Nat Sherman-branded cigarettes, a company spokesman said.
Altria, which acquired Nat Sherman in 2017 from the Sherman family for an undisclosed price, put the store and the cigar line up for sale last October, saying the business wasnâ€™t core to its tobacco portfolio. But a deal with a buyer couldnâ€™t be completed in the months thereafter and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic served to complicate any potential transaction, store officials said.
Michael Herklots, vice president of Altriaâ€™s Nat Sherman International division, pointed to the fact that the emporium, situated near the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, saw much of its business from Midtown office employees. Now, about 90% of that customer base is no longer there, he said.
The tragedy, he added, is that the city is losing one of its most treasured retail names.
â€œWe are as authentic to New York as HermÃ¨s is to Paris,â€ he said. …
The store is a place to talk about cigar preferencesâ€”mild and creamy or full-bodied and spicyâ€”with tobacconists who have years, if not decades, of experience. Moreover, it is a place just to kibbitz in generalâ€”about your work, your family or, better yet, about nothing in particular.
The store offered customers, from those famous names to everyday white- and blue-collar workers, plenty of places to sit back and enjoy a â€œstick,â€ to use a cigar smokerâ€™s term, after they shopped. Those who wanted to commit to $3,000 in purchases a year could become members of a private downstairs lounge.
Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian is among the regulars who frequented Nat Sherman for a leisurely smoke.
â€œYou walked in and you felt like you were part of something,â€ he said.