STONEY CREEK CIGARSAnd this is how it all began . . .
In 2003, at a Sportsman’s show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Stoney Chaffin met a man who was hand rolling cigars. They started talking, became friends, and before long the gentleman offered to teach Stoney how to roll cigars.
It took about two weeks for Stoney to learn the basics, and about 2 years of practice to professionally learn the craft. After earning his accreditation from the Cigar Federation of America, Stoney started hand rolling cigars at private events and festivals across the US, going as far west as Las Vegas. He has rolled for various celebrities as well as rolling at functions for companies such as the LPGA, Weston Hotels Group, Ernie Els Autistic Foundation, and the Charleston South Carolina Area Chamber of Commerce.
In 2006, Stoney and a fellow cigar enthusiast opened a company called Myrtle Beach Cigar Factory, where they produced both flavored and premium cigars for sale in the Carolinas. The cigars became so popular they eventually had 13 full-time people working for them, producing 500 cigars per day.
Stoney Creek rolls into Morgantown . . .
In 2017 Stoney wanted to get back to his first love – making and selling cigars. But he realized that to do well he needed to be in a locality that had a more vibrant and bustling economy, so in August he brought his craft to Morgantown, WV which has a very strong economy and is only 90 miles from Pittsburgh. He organized Stoney Creek Cigars and began flavoring cigars, and is now marketing those cigars as well as his skills as a professional cigar roller in the Morgantown and Pittsburgh markets.
MORGANTOWN — A new business with roots in the timeless craft of rolling cigars by hand is beginning to take off for long-time friends, Stoney Chaffin, and Steve Jones.
Both men have partnered to make and sell Stoney Creek Cigars, which are hand-rolled, flavor-infused cigars perfected by Chaffin, who is a long-time aficionado.
“I started rolling at this little place called Ocean Annie’s Beach Bar in Myrtle Beach,” Chaffin said while rolling a cigar on a kitchen table at his home in Morgantown. “I’d go and roll when golfers were heading out. I’d make more than 300 and 400 bucks in the afternoon a few days a week.”
The Huntington native lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for most of his life, where his hobby turned into a serious enterprise called the Myrtle Beach Cigar Factory.
“We were rolling up to 500 a day,” Chaffin said of his cigar factory in South Carolina. “I had 13 people working for me. That was a full force when I was doing the Myrtle Beach Cigar.”
Success took hold to the point where he was able to give up his multiple sales jobs, making enough to support his wife and three daughters.
“I started with one cigar called ‘Spirits and Spice’ and put it in a jar and sold it in 90 places in six months,” Chaffin said of his early days in the cigar business. “The money started rolling in.”
Years later, his life making and peddling his hand-made, flavored cigars in Myrtle Beach and even for a short time back home in Huntington, took an unexpected turn that led him to Morgantown. Back in August 2017, Chaffin was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“A friend, Steve Jones, heard I was sick,” Chaffin said. “He told me I could stay at his guest house while I got treatment at WVU Hospital.”
Jones, who recently retired from a 28-year career at the Boston Beanery, said it was right around the same time when Chaffin asked if he wanted to get into the cigar business.
“We worked out the details and formed Stoney Creek Cigars LLC,” Jones said they worked around his new partner's rigorous colon cancer treatments and targeted what Jones said were two areas of growth: fairs and festivals and local retailers.
“We researched our audience and the first thing we did was be a vendor at the Annual Kirkwood Winery Grape Stompin’ Festival in Summersville,” Jones said. “That was the beginning.”
Both Jones and Chaffin said the event in Summersville was a big success. In fact, it was such a great experience, Chaffin, a self-proclaimed salesman, forged a business relationship with Frank and Elizabeth Dix, the owners of the Kirkwood Winery and Isaiah Morgan Distillery.
“Cigars, bourbon, wine, and moonshine all go hand in hand,” Frank Dix said of what he thought was a natural connection between Stoney Creek Cigars and the home-made spirits his winery and distillery produce. “I asked Stoney if we could carry his product in our store.”
Jones, always focused on the business side of things, bought a table-top humidor packed with the flavored Stoney Creek Cigars the Dix’s could sell at the winery’s country store. Dix mentioned that one of the cigar flavors was bourbon and thought their locally produced, Isaiah Morgan Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey could be used.
“But then he (Chaffin) started talking about infusing a new cigar with our moonshine,” Dix said. I said ‘fantastic.’”
The moonshine, made from corn, the Nicholas County distillery produces, is called Southern Moon. The cigar-moonshine combo, released in April, created a unique flavor much different than the bourbon, cognac, vanilla, and spiced rum customers have grown to love.
“The cigar, when you smoke it, has a real sweet flavor,” Dix said of the recently created WV Moonshine brand. “It has a coolness when it comes across my tongue.”
Dix said sales of the entire line of the Stoney Creek Cigars has been growing since they started selling them last fall. The partnership is going so well, Dix and Jones said they are developing a special printed band that would be added to each WV Moonshine cigar promoting the Isaiah Morgan Distillery.
“I always volunteer the information that these cigars are infused with our moonshine,” Dix added. “It’s becoming a nice little partnership.”
Jones said retailers that are licensed to sell the Stoney Creek Cigar brand include the Smoker's Emporium in stores in Morgantown and Fairmont, the Lone Wolf store in Berkeley Springs, La Fontaine's Tobacco Shop in Huntington, Tobacco Town in Beaver, south of Beckley as well as the Kirkwood Winery in Summerville.
Both Jones and Chaffin will be attending numerous events, fairs, and festivals through the fall spanning the entire region. Chaffin, 53 said he plans on attending each one, especially since he finished his last colon cancer treatment in May.
“I’m finished with all of that now,” he proudly added.