A ribbon-cutting was recently held for St. Marys' newest business, E-Z Rolling, which offers a variety of custom-blend, chemical-free cigarettes at lower prices than commercial brands.
The new store opened on April 4 and is located at 45 Erie Ave., site of the former Kriegisch Martial Arts studio.
E-Z Rolling owner Tommy Lander said he got the idea to offer custom-blend cigarettes after hearing about that type of business while in Pittsburgh. While traveling through Warren, he noticed a shop selling such products and stopped in to obtain information about where to purchase the specialized equipment needed to create the product.
"With the economy the way it is, many people can't afford a case of cigarettes and/or gas, so we wanted to be able to offer one of those to them," said
E-Z Rolling store manager Dana Mertz.
Mertz explained the cigarette-making process starts with patrons stopping in and letting them know what type of cigarettes they smoke. They are then matched with a specific blend of loose tobacco, full flavors, lights, ultra lights or menthols, which is rolled into a cigarette by a machine for them to sample.
If patrons like the cigarette, they are instructed how to make their own. This entails measuring 8 oz. of loose tobacco into a container. The tobacco is then emptied into a machine, which rolls the tobacco into a case of 200 cigarettes in eight minutes. Patrons then package their cigarettes into a case.
The store features two RYO Filling Station machines which create the cigarettes. A flat rate is charged for a case, no matter what type of flavor it is.
"There are no chemicals in our cigarettes and they are not fire-safe," Mertz said, adding that the scent is much less stronger than regular cigarettes.
She noted that many name-brand cigarettes include harsh chemicals such as rug glue, bug spray, butane and others; however, E-Z Rolling cigarettes are chemical-free and made of strictly pure tobacco.
According to Mertz, the store's three full-time and three part-time staff members received training about the new machines as well as various rules and guidelines about selling tobacco from the RYO salesman.
Several cigarette accessory items are also sold, including water pillows to store cigarettes and keep the product fresh. E-Z Rolling also offers coffee, cappuccino, snacks and drinks, as well as gifts and a large selection of homemade signs, candles ands wax tarts made locally. Several area daily newspapers will be available at the store, as well as Sunday newspapers from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Erie Times.
"The Pennsylvania Lottery should be coming within the week," Mertz noted.