Located just off Exit 5 of Interstate 93 in Londonderry sits a small, unimposing building. Thousands of cars drive by daily, but many don’t know what is contained within. Nostalgia, memorabilia, and years of history cover the walls while the scent of cigars fills the air of Twins Smoke Shop.
Kurt Kendall began Twins as a small store in half this same building fifteen years ago. Beginning with less than one hundred boxes of cigars, the business has since expanded to include over 1,000 brands, two other New Hampshire locations, and the revival of a once-lost brand of favored local cigars. But the story begins long before 1997.
In 1989, Kendall was operating his own local excavation company. When Hurricane Hugo hit the area, he made the decision to leave New Hampshire and move to South Carolina. Then, in the mid-1990′s, he moved back to New Hampshire. By then, his twin brother Kevin was operating a gourmet grocery deli in Connecticut and had added cigars to his business.
Kevin convinced Kendall to move to Connecticut and join him in opening a cigar shop. The 90′s cigar boom was in full swing and demand was rapidly increasing, especially in the “ritzy” community where his brother was. Moving again and finding a location for the store, Kendall was told someone had just opened a cigar shop in the same area when he sought permits and approval.
Rethinking his strategy and returning to New Hampshire, Kendall was offered a chance to rent the smaller portion of a building to begin an automotive shop. His hopes still high for selling cigars, Kendall decided to open the cigar shop and, rightfully, named the store Twins Smoke Shop. For ten years, Kendall operated out of the small room, selling cigars from around the world. When the neighboring company left, he expanded into the rest of the building.
Three years ago, Kendall discovered a smoke shop in North Conway, New Hampshire that served liquor. Under law at the time, any place in the state that was licensed to sell liquor was considered a restaurant. Working with the Cigar Association, he lobbied to get the concept of a cigar bar passed, which allows shops to sell cocktails without being forced to serve food. Kendall then opened a cigar bar in the area of the store that used to be the original shop. Here, Kendall now serves a full selection of liquor, beer, and wine.
Over the years, Kendall’s love for cigars grew and culminated in the re-creation of a forgotten blend; he began collecting memorabilia from the original 7-20-4 cigar factory in Manchester, New Hampshire, learning the history of the brand. Started by Roger Sullivan in the late 1800′s, the factory was built in the 1900′s and became the largest manufacturer in the world. The company sold between fifty and eighty million cigars per year.
Kendall says he found himself dreaming about bringing the brand back on the market. “I lost sleep at night thinking about this brand. I gotta bring it back, I gotta bring it back,” he said. Three years ago, Kendall’s dream became a reality.
While re-creating the blend, Kendall worked with lawyers to successfully gain rights to the 7-20-4 trademark. He now ships the cigars to over three hundred locations nationwide under a slightly modified version of the original trademark. Working with manufacturers in Honduras and Nicaragua, the blend is shipped to Londonderry where is it aged for 120 days in Spanish cedar boxes before moving to shelves.
Kendall and his 7-20-4 cigars have been featured in a number of cigar publications across the country. He was featured in this month’s Cigar Snob magazine and his cigars have been highly rated by Cigar Aficionado, the cigar industry’s leading publication.
A company built on friendships, Twins Smoke Shop is a true local business success story. Cigar lovers from all over stop by Kendall’s shop to browse, visit and have a smoke or drink.
The original Twins Smoke Shop is located at 128 Rockingham Road in Londonderry. There are also locations at 1275 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, New Hampshire, and the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester.