President, Tobacco Road
831 Marquette Ave.
Mark Taggatz has manned the family-owned tobacco shop in the heart of Downtown for 17 years.
While the public is increasingly turning up its collective nose at smokers, Taggatz is a proud smoker and passionate about his pipes and cigars.
He followed in the footsteps of his father Judd who opened the tobacco shop 34 years ago. Taggatz has worked at the smoke shop off -and on for 29 years. He likens a high-end, $20 cigar to a bottle of fine wine aged to perfection.
How did your dad get into this line of business?
My dad has been a pipe smoker all his life. He was in the Aleutian Islands during World War II, and all his shipmates were smoking cigarettes in a photo; he's the only one smoking a pipe. He just gravitated toward pipes at a young age once he was able to smoke. My dad is 79 and he still smokes a pipe. He was down here earlier. He comes down like once a week. He's retired, but he likes to come down to the store.
What does he think about the smoking ban?
He thinks we're losing personal freedoms in this country -- as I do. Freedoms. Freedom to smoke in a designated area.
How will it affect business?
Actually, it might end up being a possible plus for us because the bars and restaurants are selling premium cigars now. When they stop selling them, [those customers will] be coming here for them. A lot of our business is done with people who buy premium cigars and take them on a fishing trip, or they go golfing. Having a baby is still synonymous with having a good cigar.
Do you smoke?
I smoke a pipe. I smoke probably two or three cigars a week. Maybe my pipe about the same amount, but I'm not a cigarette smoker. I never got into cigarettes.
What's your range of products?
We're a true tobacconist smoke shop where we sell the pipes, the tobacco for the pipes, premium cigars -- when I say premium, I mean hand-made cigars. These cigars come from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico.
What makes a really good cigar?
There are three parts of the cigar: the filler, the binder that holds the filler together and an outside wrapper. It's the blend of the three and the aged tobacco.
What's the best part of your job?
Being in business for myself. I do average about 55 hours a week, but it's enjoyable hours, and I have three locations. The two other locations are in the Park & Shop [27 S. 7th St.] and the Yorktown Mall in Edina.
Who are your customers?
People from all walks of life. From the guy who sleeps under the Third Avenue Bridge to a person with a lot of money, and everything in between.