Finding the best of those shops means appreciating the history of cigar shops as places of spontaneous convocation, with their own sooty personality and charm. In the collective imagination of New York cigar smokers, the platonic ideal was OK Cigars, which cigar fans recall with an almost mythological, romantic affection.
“At OK, we were surrounded by artists,” says Ryan Rodriguez, who worked at OK for almost all of its 17 years on West Broadway. “The fact it was SoHo, and it was all artists and designers, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to them. It was a window into their world -- and the one thing you had in common was a cigar.” The shop closed in 2014 to make way for Free People, “an American bohemian apparel and lifestyle retail company,” i.e., paradise was paved to put up a parking lot.