It is by design that owner Dhiren Shah is finding fortune at Karma Cigar Bar.
The cigar bar and lounge recently relocated to a new space at 850 W. 81st Ave. in Merrillville.
“I think there are multiple things that make our business unique. The first one is our having a large selection of premium cigars – we have over 900 cigar facings,” he said. “The second thing that makes us unique is the atmosphere we have created at our location. It is karma. We strive to have a personal connection with every single customer that walks in to our store.”
Beyond cigars, Karma now offers beer, wine and food. A small menu features various cheeses, Mediterranean spreads and a selection of sandwiches through a collaboration with Sandwich City in Crown Point.
“We offer a selection of craft beers from both national and local breweries as well as wine from vineyards from across the country,” he said. “From the moment you walk in, you are greeted by our friendly and helpful staff. After choosing a cigar, you can sit down in one of our many sitting areas and enjoy the ambience while enjoying a conversation with friends or strangers that are sure to turn into friends.”
It was after arriving in the United States that Shah began following a new course toward a new passion.
“My background, believe or not, is actually in mechanical engineering. I received my associate’s degree in mechanical engineering while I was still in India. Ever since I moved to the United States, however, I have worked in the tobacco industry,” he said. “I think my passion comes from being a social person. I love interacting with our customers on a daily basis and I am happy to say that many of our customers have become some of my closest friends over the years.
Shah also mentions, “I love teaching new customers the merits of each respected brand. I pride myself on sharing all the knowledge that I have gained over the years that I have worked in this industry.”
Shah is following an entrepreneurial path first paved by his family.
“I think being an entrepreneur just runs in my blood; my grandfather, father and brother are all entrepreneurs so I’m just walking in my family’s footsteps,” he said. “I do, however, love the freedom that comes with being entrepreneur. I get to treat people how they should be treated. They are not supporting a big company, but instead my dreams and my family’s dreams. Another reason I love being an entrepreneur is because I get to help educate people about the products we sell.”
Shah has worked with Northwest ISBDC business adviser Cindy Bertram on marketing and financial aspects of business ownership. He was able to get a large loan to purchase the building at his new site and renovate the space.
“Cindy, as well as the SBDC, has assisted us in the past by helping to connect the dots between Karma Cigar Bar and financial institutes,” he said. “She also introduced me to a marketing professor at Purdue University Northwest who has helped us with our marketing efforts. And Cindy has been there when I needed ongoing assistance, help and ideas.”
In the future, Shah looks to grow and create even more connections.
“I want to see Karma continue to grow. I love waking up every day and going to work and seeing my dreams become reality. It motivates me to continue down this path and to continue to provide the best customer service that I can,” he said. “With Karma continuing to grow, it also allows me to meet new people and become a part of their lives and that is my greatest joy.”
For more information, visit www.karmacigar.com.