Written By Ingrid Keizer
Photos by Ingrid Keizer
Frisbee Family Photos provided by Weston Tobacco
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.”
Haruki Murakami (born 1949)
I initially approached Weston Tobacco for an interview in late February. I was attracted to the uniqueness of the shop and the history of the tobacco industry in Weston. When I returned on another visit the owner was not in and the “air” had somehow changed. An inexplicable heaviness was lurking and yet the business appeared to be “intact”. Weston Tobacco is intact but changed forever. I encourage you to visit and make it a regular destination. This is their story;
In 2010 Corey Frisbee and his son Colton gave up the painting business they’d owned for ten years and made the radical decision to change direction. The twosome opened up a cigar shop in Weston Missouri. In order to reduce his overhead, Corey gave up his home and began living in the backroom of the shop. His shower consisted of a gallon milk jug, warmed in a microwave and poured over a floor drain. This continued for about a year until the shop moved to a new location with a living space attached. The living space included a proper shower! In late 2013 the shop moved to its present location, a former tobacco auction barn located at the end of Weston’s downtown on Main Street.
The city of Weston, Missouri located in Platte County was established in1826. In 1838 Weston, Missouri’s first business was established. It was a tavern. The location was a prime stopping place for steamboats traveling on the Missouri River. Weston also served as the final stopping place to acquire goods for westward traveling wagon trains. The soil was rich and ideal for growing tobacco. The river served as the perfect vehicle for floating tobacco to St. Louis. The town, situated on the river bluffs, became known as the “Queen of the Platte”. The city suffered great setbacks during the Civil War, given its proximity to Kansas. A flood in 1858 nearly paralyzed riverboat traffic. Finally in 1881 a devastating flood re-routed the river, eliminating Weston’s river access. Today’s Weston is a quaint city. It is a frequent destination for pleasant day trips of shopping or a weekend stay in one of the numerous Bed and Breakfasts. The countryside surrounding Weston is still dotted with tobacco barns set in valleys and drastic hills that seem to disappear into the horizon.
Opening up a cigar shop together was a natural transition for this father and son team. After working together as painters for ten years the two could anticipate the other’s next move. Corey reminisced that he could simply reach behind his back for something and Colton would place it in his hands without ever saying a word. In the tobacco shop, that synchronicity continued.
Each knew the other’s favorite customers and made way for the other in tending to the customer needs. On the occasion that the pair disagreed, their habit was to step into the back room to “discuss” the matter. It sometimes resulted in a bit of a shoving match! As equal partners in business and in life, Corey says, “Whomever was most passionate won”.
In addition to an impressive inventory of cigars, Weston Tobacco rolls its own cigars, a unique trait in Kansas City shops. Hand rolling cigars allows the shop to tailor the blend to the taste of the individual shopper. Initially the shop sold only hand-rolled cigars but as the demand increased it become more difficult to supply. Weston Tobacco now offers an excellent variety of commercial cigars in various price ranges, yet the hand rolled cigars still make up about 30% of sales.
Though Weston Tobacco has “regulars” from within the area, the store draws customers from all over the Mid-west. The shop at the end of Main Street keeps the men busy while their wives saunter in and out of Weston’s charming shops. Frisbee says that he has several groups of men that accompany their wives to Weston. While the ladies shop, the men sip scotch, smoke cigars and enjoy conversation. Perfect!
The two Frisbee men started out as father and son but evolved into best friends and of course business partners. It was Colton’s nature to pack in experiences long before his time. He began working at age 14. Corey says that he wasn’t able to give his kids a lot but he could teach them how to work and it that would serve them for the rest of their lives. Colton could outwork five guys. Colton and his father had an amazing ability to process things together. If one of them had a challenge in life, they would talk it through and eventually, find a solution together.
Recently the two were even arrested together! After having a few drinks, a scuffle erupted with some other men and the two found themselves in the middle of it. The police were called and Corey and Colton were delivered to the Platt County Jail. A regular customer describes Colton as old beyond his years, totally immersed. Passionate.
In anticipation of the birth of his daughter, Colton Frisbee began to seek out additional income. Finding work as a painter was a natural transition. On March 12th, Corey woke Colton for work. Colton prepared himself for his day, told his father he loved him and left for work. That afternoon a Weston police officer entered the shop. She asked Corey to have a seat and delivered the news that would forever alter Corey’s world. Colten was the victim of a fatal accident at work”. The mechanized scissor lift that Colton was standing on malfunctioned, and fell on top of him. Colton died instantly.
Corey has returned to work full-time, and then some. Some days it’s a hard place to be. On other days, the essence of Colton lingers and comforts. He is missing, but he is still here.
Colton’s mother LeeAnn, lives in Columbia and speaks with Corey about three times a day. Together they process the unfathomable. Colton was her only child. Corey was Colton’s buddy, his best friend, his business partner. As rugged and fearless as Colton was, he was also a Mama’s boy. He was fiercely protective of his mother, LeeAnn. She provided the balance that created the whole person.
As a mother, I recognize the absolute ludicrousness that the loss of a child must present. There simply are no words. I won’t even make the attempt.
“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.” > Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
On Friday, April 24th Rick Rodriguez of CAO World Brands will host a memorial poker game in Colton’s honor. The proceeds will fund the education of Colton’s daughters, Noahlyn and Etta. Your presence is welcome.
For more information, please visit Weston Tobacco’s Website – http://www.westontobacco.com/