GBA Pays Tribute to Georgetown’s Economic History

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GBA Treasurer Alan Helfer, Georgetown Tobacco owner David Berkebile and GBA President Sonya Bernhardt. Photo by Robert Devaney.

Members and guests of the Georgetown Business Association gathered Nov. 15 for its monthly reception at one of the neighborhood’s oldest businesses, Georgetown Tobacco, which opened in 1964.

Founded by GBA member David Berkebile, the cigar, pipe and tobacco store is a charming throwback, armed with modern business savvy in marketing the art of smoking in the 21st century. The male-centric classic also sells cuff links and other men’s accessories, such as canes and Venetian Carnival masks, because that’s what Berkebile likes.

The fragrance of the store — heavenly to some and not so much for others — is fine with Berkebile, a longtime Georgetowner who attended Western High School, now the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He also knows how the store can tell the story of part of Georgetown’s economic history: it was once the biggest tobacco exporting port in America.

Along with Walter Gorski and several staffers, Berkebile offered whiskey and smokes to attendees, most of whom were just happy to visit the store and some for the first time.

As the banter continued and the crowd thinned, a few stayed on to puff on a cigar in one of Georgetown’s unique businesses.

GBA Treasurer Alan Helfer, Georgetown Tobacco owner David Berkebile and GBA President Sonya Bernhardt.
Cris Smith, GBA Vice President Hope Solomon and Ralph Ours.
Ellie McMullen and Bill Starrels.
Reyes Gonzalez-Gutierrez and Darren Kataja, both of BB&T Bank, with Paul Monarch of the Alexander Graham Bell Foundation.
Along the counter at Georgetown Tobacco.
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