One day while while making a routine cigar purchase at his local tobacconist, Mike Waterman asked the shop owner if he had ever thought about selling his business.

Little did Mike know that this small talk conversation would eventualy parlay him and two business partners into not only taking over the business, but also revamping it and assigning it a new name: Stick Premium Cigars.

Mike Waterman (right) and co-owner Phil Bourque

To learn a little more about the New Westminster, BC location formerly known as Pacific Tobacco and Cigars, we asked Mike a few questions.

House of Horvath: As an owner, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you arrived at the decision to become a Canadian tobacconist.

Mike Waterman: I’ve been a premium cigar enthusiast for over 20 years. One day I was in the shop picking up some [My Father] Le Bijous that I knew that Jay [the previous owner] always had in stock. While paying, I asked the innocent question “Have you ever considered selling your business, Jay?”. His eyes got really large and he said “Let me get my son to call you!” and that was how it started. Though I wasn’t looking to purchase a store, judging by his reaction, I knew that they were motivated and wanted out, so I really started considering the opportunity.

HOH: Stick Premium Cigars was formerly known as Pacific Tobacco and Cigars. Since you’ve taken over ownership, what changes or improvements have you made to the location?

MW: As a management group, we were very excited to start the transformation process, and to get to work creating our collective vision. We’ve completed a total facelift of the space including new paint, lighting, lounge area, espresso bar, and even a redesigned Cuban room. We chose a great new POS system so we can better manage our customers and their purchases.

We’re currently working on a Mailchimp [email delivery system] rollout, as well as creating a new customer-focused website that includes online ordering. Oh, and the cigars! We’ve tripled the investment in non-Cuban cigars from where it previously was, which has rounded out our stock with so many amazing flavours.

Inside the Cuban room

HOH: What neighborhood or locality do you serve, and how far do some customers travel to shop at Stick Premium Cigars?

MW: Most premium shops are located in the Downtown area of Vancouver, which from the Fraser Valley can be a 45-60 minute drive one way. Our intention is to make it more convenient for customers to buy premium cigars, and create a unique and amazing experience for them at our store. We’re also focused on the online sales model, allowing us to serve anyone in British Columbia.

HOH: We are always pleased to see new people who want to serve the public as a Canadian tobacconist. However, opening a business as a tobacconist in Canada can be a challenging ordeal given the number of regulations, which of course differ from province to province. Was it a challenging process to open your doors in New Westminster, BC? Were there any specific obstacles?

MW: The process was surprisingly simple. There were the usual tax requirements and licenses to be obtained, and all of the people we dealt with were very accommodating and helpful. We were however, a little surprised with some of the rules and regulations imposed on tobacco, and so disappointed to experience the difference from the way that alcohol is regulated.  The Government’s perception of premium cigars is what mostly concerns me.  

HOH: You recently had an official grand opening event with a big ribbon cutting and all – congratulations! How did the event go and what took place that day? Did you smoke a particular cigar to celebrate?

Left to right: Angelo Bavaro, Mike Waterman, Phil Bourque

MW: The event was amazing! We had over 200 visitors come through the shop in a 4 hour period and were exhausted when we finally sat down to reflect on the day. As I recall, my smoke of choice was an Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill, and my 2 partners smoked some Arturo Fuente Eye of the Shark beauties.

HOH: Let’s talk about cigars. What’s your best-selling cigar for under twenty bucks?

MW: Based on our current inventory, which is limited in this price range, Don Tomas seems to be the best seller for us. As of this moment, we’ve focused more on the higher-priced cigars and have not yet fully addressed our mid-priced products. 

HOH: What’s your best-selling cigar over twenty bucks that is no more than fifty bucks?

MW: MonteCristo No. 4.

HOH: What’s the most expensive cigar in your humidor?

MW: The [Cohiba] Behike 54, hands down.

HOH: Do you have any house blend cigars? If not, do you intend on offering any?

MW: We would like to have our own house blends, and will be looking at adding them in the near future.

HOH: Rapid-fire question time! Please give one answer with no further explanation, here we go; Churchill or Robusto? Churchill. Fuente or My Father? Fuente. Wooden match or butane torch lighter? Torch. A cigar and a whisky, or cigar and a coffee? Coffee.  Maduro or Connecticut? Maduro. Montecristo or Cohiba? Cohiba. V cut, straight cut, or punch cut? V cut. Dominican or Nicaraguan? Dominican. Smoke a cigar alone with just your thoughts, or at an event with other people? Alone.

HOH: Tell us something most people don’t know about Stick Premium Cigars.

MW: The business has been operating as a tobacconist for over 23 years, and we have a Habanos Certified Specialist on staff.

HOH: Other than cigars, what else can customers find at Stick?

MW: We sell premium quality humidors, cutters and lighters, as well as some pipe items. 

HOH: Are there any special events that take place associated with Stick Premium Cigars?

MW: Our special event organizer is still bringing different ideas for us to consider, and we will hold our first event this spring – whatever that may be!

HOH: Thanks for your time Mike, and for stepping up to the plate to continue to serve New Westminster as a tobacconist. 

MW: It’s my pleasure! We’re overjoyed to continue offering this service to our community. 

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Stick Premium Cigars are located at 633 Columbia Street, new Westminster, British Columbia, and can be reached at (604) 515-8895 or