ST. CLOUD -- After decades of business on St. Cloud’s East Side, GW Coffee & Tobacco is closing.

The specialty shop, located at 21 Wilson Ave. NE, will close within the year, according to owner Marilyn Eliot.

Eliot opened the shop 26 years ago in the same building as Knotty Pine Liquors – which at that point was owned by her late husband.

“His customers wanted cigars,” Eliot says.“But there wasn’t enough room for them in the liquor store.”

“So, he had that side, and I took this one," she laughs.

Abby Faulkner

The couple renovated the space and stocked it with premium cigars, pipe tobacco and coffee beans. At that time, Eliot says the neighborhood business community was “kind of bustling.”

“There were five or six little shops right here," Eliot says. "Together, they kept everyone going. Customers would go from one shop to the next, and do their business over here.”

The lack of neighboring businesses has affected GW's sales and potential for new customers, Eliot says.

"People used to come to this side of town," Eliot says. “Now, I’m the only one left of the little businesses that were here."

Eliot says she still has her “loyal regulars” and a small amount of foot traffic from the neighborhood. Coffee and tea sales are stronger in the winter. Warmer months bring in her cigar customers.

“(Cigars are) still important to people,” she says. “They’re a special treat, a weekend social thing. They’re not smoking them all the time.”

Abby Faulkner

The business is currently for sale, and Eliot says she’s had a few interested parties. Regardless, the great-grandmother of seven plans to close for good “sometime this summer” and begin her retirement.

“I’d like to travel,” Eliot says. “I’m ready for something else.”