Walking down the bustling sidewalks of downtown Keene, New Hampshire, amidst the various shops and restaurants; you can’t help but feel that you’re in the very heart of New England. On a crisp Autumn day with the leaves falling all around you in Central Square’s gazebo, church bells ringing cheerfully from the towering alabaster steeple of Keene’s United Church of Christ, and the aroma of roasting coffee in the air; what more could you possibly ask? “I wonder where there’s a cigar shop around here,” you mutter half-aloud to the amazement and displeasure of your significant other.
You’re in luck my friend. Directly in your line of sight is CC&H Framing. Yes, a picture framing shop. But CC&H is much more. As you approach the very nicely decorated storefront you’ll notice an enticing display of hot sauces with a sign proclaiming “Pepper Pete’s Hot Shop”; and to the right, that most important of salutations, one which has given hope to many a road-weary traveler: “Fine Cigars“.
Upon entering, you’ll see that CC&H quite clearly is a large and functioning frame shop of very serious proportions. However, unlike the last frame shop you were in- the one where your wife drained your wallet to frame a four foot by six foot print of a snowy-roofed log cabin by Thomas Kinkade (he’s the Painter of Light, you know)- this one has a walk-in humidor. Feel free to browse through the very nice selection in the walk-in; if you have any questions or would like a suggestion, owner Clark Anderson will be more than happy to help. CC&H carries a variety of high-quality hand-rolled cigars including the largest selection of boutique brand Perdomo that I have ever seen in person. Other notable hard-to-find smokes you’ll find in Clark’s shop include Oliva Serie V and Padilla 1968. You will not be able to walk out empty handed. I know I wasn’t.
As part of the CigarsEveryday commitment to exploring and supporting Brick and Mortar cigar shops, I sat down with Clark Anderson to get a sense of the mission and history of CC&H. Clark has been in the framing business for a long time. The current location has been in operation since 2000, and before that Clark was serving the community from another Keene location. When asked how exactly it came to be that a frame shop has a walk-in humidor, Clark relates that he had always wanted to have a cigar shop, but as a good neighbor, he didn’t want to compete with the establishment that had been in Keene’s Colony Mill shopping center. When they closed-up two years ago, Clark was finally able to hang his “Fine Cigars” sign in the window.
There will always be a need for a purveyor of fine cigars in a diverse and cultured community such as Keene, Clark was able to fill that niche. “We get customers from 18 to 95 years old. All types of people; blue collar and white collar,” says Clark, perfectly describing the wide range of demographics that are part of the cigar lifestyle. This is something you can plainly see when you attend one of CC&H’s cigar tasting events. People of all ages at all stages of life gathered around, happily puffing away; all brought together for the love of cigars (there’s usually a deal or two to be had at Clark’s events as well). I asked Clark how the New Hampshire indoor smoking ban has effected his business and I was surprised and heartened by his answer. “I haven’t noticed any drop in business, whatsoever,” said Clark with refreshing optimism. Here is an example of one Brick and Mortar cigar shop owner who isn’t going to be intimidated by anybody. CC&H is going to be around for a long time. Plans for next year’s cigar tasting events are already in the works. I, for one, can’t wait.
If you’re ever in the area, drop by and pay Clark a visit. You’ll probably catch him right outside the doors of CC&H Framing, cigar in hand, chatting with the wonderful people of Keene. I dare you to come out of there without at least a fiver and a bottle of hot sauce. Sounds like a good way to spend a night if you ask me.
41 Central Square
Keene NH 03431