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Flushing cigar shop aims to please

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Jonathan Lee is hoping that Flushing goes up in smoke. But as the manager of the Tinder Box, Flushing's new cigar and tobacco shop, that would not be such a bad thing.

The Tinder Box opened in Flushing's Queens Crossing just over two months ago, and Lee said the store is employing the strategy that so many business owners in the bustling urban hub have employed: Bring a piece of Manhattan to central Queens.

"Most of the top-line cigar shops are in Manhattan," Lee said. "We're trying to give the people of Flushing and maybe even all of Queens an option right here."

The Tinder Box features a walk-in humidor lined with top-flight cigars from all over the world and a candy shop of flavored tobaccos for pipe and hookah smokers. While it may seem daunting for someone new looking to pick up the acquired taste, Lee said he and the staff at the Tinder Box are there to take the anxiety out of it.

"A lot of our customers come in and ask, 'What's a good cigar to start with?' " Lee said. "Tinder Box is all about personalized customer service."

Lee also said that service extends itself to its more regular and seasoned customers.

"If someone comes in here and tells me they smoked a cigar but they can't remember what the name of it was, we can find it for them," he said. "When a customer buys something with us, we set up a personalized account, so if they come in and say, 'I smoked this cigar and it was really good, but I can't remember what it was called,' we can pull it up on our computer."

Lee said the Tinder Box will soon work in tandem with its sister company, Vino 100, which will open across the hall in the coming months. Lee said Vino 100, whose philosophy is 100 wines for under $25, will apply the same personalized service for those whose taste leads them to wine.

The Tinder Box is one of the several new businesses that opened in downtown Flushing's newest retail center, Queens Crossing. Businesses have been opening at the shopping center slowly but steadily over the last year, and project developers the F&T Group hope Queens Crossing will provide a unique and unparalleled shopping experience in one of the up-and-coming retail markets in the city.

The Tinder Box is located on the first floor of Queens Crossing at the corner of 38th Avenue and 138th Street. It is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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