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Wow, what a year 2022 was! I don’t know about y’all, but we packed quite a bit of life into the past 12 months. I figured I would finally take a moment to look back and recap the last year and share some memories.

Much of what transpired last year was the result of seeds we planted the prior year, and some even earlier. We took our time getting some events going because we knew we had a lot on the list with changes to the shop, the private club, and the re-brand.

The first 3 months of the year were spent renovating the old office space upstairs to be the new home of the Lodge, our private lounge for club members. We had been eyeing that spot for years and jumped at the opportunity to take it over when we heard it was available. The race was on and the clock was not on our side as I was scheduled for some surgery the first week of April. After about a month of gutting the space and rebuilding the infrastructure to support the new digs, we dove into painting everything, installing new floors, updating electrical, doors, and all the new furniture and fixtures.

We are so thankful for all the help from friends, family, and our amazing friends at Blue Ridge Solutions. We could not have done it without you.

Once that was complete, we began planning our first event of the year, and the first open event of its kind at the shop, Barn & Barrel. B&B was a private whiskey-cigar pairing club I had started a few years prior. It was so much fun that we decided to make it a regular event at the shop. So B&B:1 kicked off in late April with Breckenridge Distillery and Southern Draw Cigars.

Soon after, planning for B&B:2 began and we had a blast in June with High West Distillery, Drew Estate Cigars, and a book signing with our friend and local writer B. Milton Hyde to celebrate his book, Behold A Pale Horse. If you enjoy a good western story, this is one to add to your reading list.

It was around this time that the wheels really hit the road for the Old Oak rebrand. To take you back a bit, when my former partner, Clint, and I took over the business in 2016, we decided to start over as William Alexander Tobacconist in 2017, using a combination of our middle names. As 2020 took off, Clint started his process to change directions with a new business venture of his and I took over as sole proprietor of W.A.T. in April of that year. With the “William” of William Alexander no longer on board I kicked around the idea of rebranding in the future to something that fit me and my personality, my approach to the industry, and my tastes more accurately. 

The seeds for what would become Old Oak were planted and the long road to that transition began. Fast forward to mid-2022, and we hitched our horses up to the Old Oak wagon and started ordering materials, furniture, decor, lights, signage and more inventory. Along the way, you got to see things start to happen in the shop, like new bar counters (thanks Steve), new lights, darker floors, and eventually the new furniture!

The date was set for the official launch party and cigar event with Rocky Patel Cigars in October. And what a night that was! It was the biggest night of the year for us in more ways than one! The house was packed and so were the tents outside! We had such an incredible time sharing our vision, smoking great cigars, sipping on some great bourbon, and we can’t thank you all enough for the love you showed us and the new brand. It means the world to us that we get to be part of the journey with you. Our cups were overflowing that night and our hearts were bursting! You are the most important part of Old Oak, and we hope that you all will continue to do life with us at the shop, the Lodge, and beyond.

As if that weren’t enough already, the Christmas season was almost upon us, and we threw our 2nd Annual Home for the Holidays Christmas Event in December. Once again, you guys showed up and we had an amazing night! It was even bigger than the previous year and we hope that trend will continue every year after. Christmas themed-cocktails, delicious food from everyone’s home, live music, cigars, and memories that won’t fade easy. 

If you’re new to Old Oak, you might see a trend here. We’re a family, we do life together, and we celebrate all the seasons together in and around the shop. It’s not your average cigar shop. We may have hours posted on the door, but most of us are hanging out together outside those windows all the time. Thank you all for such an incredible and memorable year! And here’s to 2023 and the years and decades to come!

Mike Justice

PS — While the “we” references in this letter definitely encompass both Mike and I and the vision, hopes, and dreams we have for the family that is Old Oak, I wanted to add my own sincere thank you here. Thank you for being the best customers, friends, and industry family we could ask for in this endeavor, and personally—thank you for welcoming me into this space these last few years. It’s one of my favorite things to walk into the shop and get personal greetings from y’all and I truly treasure the time I spend there. Thanks for teaching me new things and welcoming me with open arms! Can’t wait to see where the rest of this road takes us all together. Hold onto your hats, cause I’m sure we’re in for a fun and adventurous ride! — Kate Justice