Iwan Ries & Co. (Illinois) : The oldest tobacco shop in the United States


(USKings.us) 1857. Just 20 years after the incorporation of Chicago, and four years before the Civil War, German immigrant Edward Hoffman established a small tobacco shop, E. Hoffman & Co., in Chicago’s famous Sherman House hotel. Edward dedicated himself to providing the smokers of Chicago only the finest pipes, cigars, and tobaccos in the world, not only as a retailer, but also as a manufacturer of such classic brands as Hoffman House and Spillman Mixture. Little did he know his family would carry on this tradition for another 153 years.

In 1871, the Chicago Fire burned the city to the ground sparing nothing. From the smoke and ashes both the Sherman House and E. Hoffman & Co. emerged bigger and better. In Chicago’s major business district, Edward and his staff served not only the booming business community, but also thousands of hotel guests developing a large fan base outside of the city, as well. As business grew Edward realized that he could not run it alone. In 1891, he recruited his nephew, Iwan Ries, from Germany and the second generation had begun.

Edward Hoffman 

With Edward easing toward retirement, in 1898, Iwan took center stage. Finding it increasingly difficult to manage the manufacturing of Hoffman House products without sacrificing the service to his loyal retail clientele, Iwan sold the manufacturing business. In the agreement, the name of the store had to change. With a nod of approval from Uncle Edward, the store became known as Iwan Ries & Co.

Throughout the next twenty years Iwan Ries & Co. built a reputation as one of the finest tobacco shops in the country. Though business was brisk, it was not without complications. Chicago, still rebuilding from the fire, was a tabula rasa for architects & developers. And the roaring twenties brought them in droves. With developers devouring land for the building of a modern city, Iwan Ries & Co. had to keep finding new locations to set up shop. As the business grew, so did his family. Stanley Levi married Iwan’s daughter Rosalie in 1929. The third generation was quickly brought into the mix. Learning the ropes from two generations of pioneers in the industry Stanley gained valuable knowledge. His slow and steady apprenticeship paid huge dividends. By 1950, Iwan Ries & Co became a household name among smokers.

According to wikipedia



Claire Huynh (Collect and Nominate for the U.S. Record) - USKings (Source of photos: internet)

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