If you have ever driven on Thousand Oaks Blvd., you have probably driven past Old Oaks on the corner of Hampshire Rd. It has been a Thousand Oaks staple since 2001, and if you have ever had the pleasure of being a customer, you know why. Walking inside instantly transports you back to a different era, reminiscent partly of a Wild West cantina and partly of an old-time pub with assorted memorabilia hanging on the walls, from flags to figurines to pictures of long-time customers. However, Old Oaks also takes you into a timeless sense of community, preserving the lost art of making you feel like a friend rather than a mere customer. This art is cultivated by Albert and Arseen, the dynamic duo brothers who have made this place a TO destination for cigar aficionados. Upon entering the cigar industry in 1996, the brothers became experts in their trade.
After first passing long-time customers enjoying their cigars on the outdoor patio, Arseen and Albert will greet you the moment you walk through the door. They will take you into their impressive walk-in humidor, the “promised land” for cigar lovers. Whether you are a seasoned cigar smoker or a newcomer, Albert and Arseen will not only find the best cigar for your taste and price, but also remember it! My dad and I have been frequenting their shop for years, and they immediately know what cigars (Tabernacles) to pull when we walk through their door. And it’s not just us; they will remember you, your story, and your cigar because you become a part of their family.
However, what is most notable about Old Oaks is Albert and Arseen’s love for the Conejo Valley. They have contributed to fundraisers for the Ventura County Police Department and have supported our soldiers while overseas. Many of their customers are police officers—you will see hundreds of police department patches behind their main counter representing their long-time customers who walk the thin blue line. During the Iraqi War, the brothers donated cigars regularly to our deployed troops, and years later, to their surprise, the platoon leader brought his troops to Old Oaks, bestowing Albert and Arseen with a plaque of honor from the U.S. Army. You can see it hanging on their wall next to a flag given to them by a Navy Seal.
During my conversation with Albert, he said, “Whenever I helped someone out, I truly never wanted something to come back to me.” However, the authenticity of the brothers’ love for the Conejo Valley is reciprocated by their customers’ loyalty to Old Oaks during the COVID lockdowns. Customers regularly come to Old Oaks to support the business, and many give donations to keep it going. Albert recounted how many customers buy $40 worth of cigars with $60 and refuse to take the change. Albert said that he truly “loves his customers” and that the people in the Conejo Valley are genuinely “good people,” tearing up as he recounted their loyalty to his business.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Old Oaks Cigar and Liquor, write it into your weekend plans! Longtime customer, Bill, couldn’t say it better: “Old Oaks is my home away from home, where everybody knows your name, where real conversation takes place, and where I feel valued as a human being. I can’t say enough good things about this place.” Even if you do not smoke, you will not regret grabbing a glass of wine and getting to know Albert, Arseen, and the customers who frequent there. You will walk in a customer, but you will walk out a friend.