Mar. 1—Meridian is not the only city with the nickname, “The Queen City.”

Havana, Cuba, was called the queen city of the Caribbean before the Cuban Revolution, said Erin Richardson, co-owner of new downtown business Queen City Cigar.

She said many people wanted to travel to Cuba after World War II.

“Everybody wanted to go to Cuba to vacation,” she said.

Erin and her husband, Brian Richardson, chose to call their store Queen City Cigar because of the name’s connection to both Havana and Meridian. The business, which sells cigars and features a cigar lounge, opened its doors in October.

Erin Richardson said she and her husband have learned a lot about running a small business over the last several months. For example, ordering and shipping products to the store can sometimes take a while, while other times, it is a fast process, she said.

The business has also allowed the couple to become more involved in the Meridian community, as they are interacting with customers and other downtown businesses.

The couple’s store sells over 70 cigar brands and over 100 different types of cigars, according to Erin Richardson. The average cost of a cigar at the store is between $8 and $12. Brian Richardson said he price matches with cigar boxes sold online.

He smokes cigars and said the cigars in his store are ones that he knows he likes.

“I know they’re good cigars,” he said.

The couple stores their cigars in cabinets called humidors, which help keep the cigars at the right humidity. Humidifiers are kept in the humidors.

Customers who purchase a cigar can visit the business’ lounge. The decor of the lounge is inspired by Cuba before the revolution, Erin Richardson said. It features a mural made by a local artist that depicts both Meridian and Havana. Pictures taken in Havana hang on a wall in the lounge, and antique furniture sits on the floor.

Brian Richardson is about to retire from the Navy after 25 years of service. The couple wanted to found a brick-and-mortar business, and they chose to sell cigars.

“After going around and kind of seeing different cigar shops and lounges, I thought that would be a really good fit for us,” Erin Richardson said. “It would be something that we would both be knowledgeable at it. It wouldn’t require a lot of overhead. We could do it ourselves. And we could use the resources that we already had to create it.”

She said community enrichment is one of her goals for the business. They decided to open a shop in downtown Meridian.

“Because it’s one less empty building downtown, and if Meridian wants to make that turn to what it wants to be — with the Threefoot Building and the Threefoot Brewing and the children’s museum — it needs to have less empty stuff downtown.”

She said that brick-and-mortars also pay taxes as well as water and sewer.

“All that makes a difference within the city,” she said.

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