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Barclay-Rex A Royal House Of Tobacco
By Mitya Gore
Rex the Great Dane
In 1910, Vincent Nastri, a pipe maker from Salerno Italy, made a very bold move by taking his craft one step further. He ventured into the world of tobacco and almost a century later, his vision still thrives in downtown Manhattan. The store was opened on Barclay and Church Street and taking the cue "a dog is man's best friend", Nastri, with his Great Dane Rex in tow, set out to create Barclay-Rex. This partnership was a touching testimonial to Mr. Nastri's character as he was rarely without his faithful companion Rex, who also served as an ingenious way to advertise the store. The Great Dane wore an emblazoned blanket with the name Barclay-Rex and drew the curious and potential customer.

Barclay-Rex developed a signature line of pipes that were made of natural wood, with a light polish and was. Nastri did not care for the use of varnishes or stains. It is undoubtedly the most legendary name attached to the business and has withstood the turbulent eras that followed the company's conception. By 1949, Barclay-Rex moved to Maiden Lane (just 1 block from where the future World Trade Center would be), under the guided care of Vincent Nastri and his son Vincent Nastri II. Father and son thrived at this location for 51 years, crafting beautiful pipes and making history. Until 1998, Vincent Nastri II, could still be found turning a block of wood into a work of art that would later be a pipe or repairing one for a customer in the store. However, the torch would soon be handed down once again, as Vincent Nastri III stepped into the world that he had grown up in. Where so many others have failed and had to close their doors. Barclay-Rex is now a veritable dynasty, boasting four Manhattan addresses, 1985 saw the unveiling of the second Barclay-Rex on 70 East 42nd Street, opposite the famous Grand Central Station. Eleven years later, the Nastri's realized the global preoccupation with cigars was on the rise, and in 1997 the company's Midas touch was used to acquire their third branch on 570 Lexington Avenue.

Barclay and Church Streets
In 1998 Vincent Nastri III staked his claim on the ground floor of the World Financial Center. Nastri states that "we had the chance to move into an area that looked profitable, and I knew that my competitor would take the slot if I did not act upon my business sense." This store was closed for about thirteen months because of the attack of September 11th; Nastri with eye towards the future rebuilt this store and reopened on Oct 14th, 2002 in the same spot.

On May 1st of 2000, the fountain of youth was finally discovered, at least for the Maiden Lane store. Nastri simply moved his tobacco store to a new location and 75 Broad Street is now the flagship of Barclay-Rex. Imagine a classic, mahogany paneled library, with polished wood floors the color cherry oak, and you have yet to grasp the plush elegance the 1600-square-foot store exudes. Nastri commented, "the layout and design of the store is simply beautiful. We have tried to convey an atmosphere that is calm and relaxing for the customer."

In the past, Manhattan has been labeled the city that does not sleep and the hectic pace encourages its inhabitants to seek places of refuge. This concept is not lost on Nastri, as the Broad Street store features a luxurious lounge, where a customer can sit, enjoy a leisurely smoke, have an espresso or cappuccino and revel in another world. Not surprisingly, Manhattan has also proven to be a fantastic "port" for the cigar industry. The vast array of businesses, international and cultural events, tends to draw a melting pot of customers. Naturally, competition is always a factor in one of the world's largest cities. Yet Barclay-Rex is known to provide a certain elevated level of customer service that exceeds the expectations of the average buyer and earns the loyalty of regular clients.

Vincent Nastri
Barclay-Rex still houses a long list of commercial pipes such as the Dunhill, Castello, Radice and the Ashton. But the stores' own line still seems to have carved a special niche for themselves among buyers.

Nastri remarks that the key ingredient to staying on top has been their commitment to the client. We have our share of competitors but we like to think that we offer the customer that added touch of finesse and knowledge. Not everyone is shopping for price and we believe that service is as important as the quality of the product.

Interestingly, the clientele that Barclay-Rex caters to vary in age, but the thirty-plus crowd seems to have caught up to their older, more experienced counterparts. The allure of the stogie has attracted the blue-collar man to the Wall Street suit, so that it is no longer confined to one particular echelon of society. Humorously, Nastri admits having to give advice to those who have recently begun their affiliation with cigars. "We try to educate the new smoker, giving them an arena where they can feel at ease with a new brand or try a recommended top shelf cigar. The Partagas or Macanudo is probably a good place to start if you are a novice. In fact, for the past decade, Barclay-Rex has proudly carried their brand of cigars called B-Rex. The B-Rex cigars are made in Honduras. Nastri, an aficionado himself, leans towards the full body of a Davidoff, Bahia or an Ashton VSG, while his wife, JoAnn, tends to prefer the small, flavored cigars such as the Tattiana's from Miami. Barclay-Rex offers unlimited choices in cigars but there are certain brands that achieve a higher status as Nastri himself affirms. "We have been a white label Davidoff account holder since the product was introduced in the United States ten years ago. In my opinion, they are one of the finest cigars ever made and we really like to get behind the product."

Barclay-Rex has proven Darwin's theory on 'the survival of the fittest.' The company has flourished and enjoys the slot allotted to the cräme de la cräme. The Nastris' forge ahead into the 21st century with panache, quiet grace and the singular mission to provide sterling service that lends Barclay- Rex their air of royalty.

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