BOISE (AP) Hannifin's Cigar Store will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. Numerous historic figures have passed through its doors in that time, and owner Bobby Guerrero says that employees have heard footsteps from history.
In many ways, it looks the same as it did when Boisean John Hannifin and his brother, Lawrence, held court there. The potbellied wood stove that warmed Depression-era customers Guerrero says it came from Boise's first courthouse is still in place.
In its century at 1024 W. Main, the Boise cigar store has counted tycoons, governors and U.S. senators among its patrons. The most famous was U.S. Sen. William Borah, the "lion of Idaho."
The most infamous: Raymond Snowden, "Idaho's Jack the Ripper." Guerrero and others who have worked there claim to have heard Snowden's ghostly footsteps.
"I've experienced it once," Guerrero said. "So did my brother and others who have worked here. I was working late one night and heard footsteps walking between the stove and the bathroom, but there was no one there. I've never believed in those kind of things, but it was eerie. It made my hair stand on end."
As Guerrero tells it, Snowden stopped at Hannifin's the night he killed a woman in Garden City in 1956. The knife used in the crime was found near the store. Snowden was convicted of murdering and mutilating Cora Dean, whom he met that night in a Garden City bar. Nicknamed Idaho's Jack the Ripper by a detective magazine, he was the last person hanged in the Old Idaho Penitentiary.
"Thank God I was almost ready to leave the night I heard those footsteps," Guerrero said. "It really creeped me out."
In a city that has all but reinvented itself in recent years, Hannifin's changed little until Guerrero took over. Normally too busy to be listening for ghostly footsteps, he has made more changes since purchasing it in 2006 than its previous owners did in decades. The biggest was removing its line of magazines and newspapers, said to have been among the most extensive in Idaho.
"We were selling a lot of magazines, but the margins are small and set," he said. "We weren't losing money on them, but they weren't making any money. I decided it made sense to go where the market is."
He sees his primary market in the increasing numbers of Boiseans who live downtown.
When Ford's Market closed last year, they were left without a neighborhood store. Coolers filled with soda, beer, bottled water and other beverages occupy the space previously taken by Hannifin's magazine racks. Sundries from pain killers to Vienna sausages line shelves. Hannifin's now has a coffee bar.
"People still come in looking for the magazines. They were sad to see them go," Guerrero said. "But we also have people who live downtown who are happy that they can come in and pick up some mac and cheese or a loaf of bread. And people who work downtown like being able to come in and grab a snack."
It is still possible to buy the store's signature product, of course. Cigarettes are its best-selling items, followed by other tobacco products.
"We still have cigars and our humidor and are adding new things like hookah tobacco," Guerrero said. "We'll always carry tobacco products. That's what the store has been known for 100 years."
Longer, actually. A Frenchman named Edmund Salmon started the business in another downtown location in the late 1800s. Boisean John Hannifin began working there as a young boy in about 1907. The store moved to its current location in 1908, and Hannifin bought it in 1921. Though no Hannifin has owned it recently Guerrero is the fourth owner in five years it has been called Hannifin's ever since.
But the worn, wooden floor and faded walls haven't changed in decades. Vintage posters, signs and tobacco paraphernalia seem to be everywhere.
"I've been coming here since the '80s, and it hasn't changed much," Boisean Brent Hutchinson said while stocking up on his favorite brand of cigarettes. "It's a nice bit of tradition surrounded by new culture. New culture isn't worth much without some history mixed in."