United Cigar Stores, founded in 1901, at one time was the largest chain of cigar stores in the United States. Though initially specializing in cigars, it eventually sold many other items, such as Mickey Mouse watches and shoe trees.
The chain represented the interests of the Consolidated Tobacco Company, the tobacco trust that controlled the American Tobacco Company and others. In September 1903 a settlement was reached with the chain's competitors and all competition ended. By 1926 the chain had close to 3,000 retail stores.
The company was controlled by Whelan-Schulte interests, but control passed to brothers George Kenan and Frederick Kenan Morrow in August 1929. The company also was in real estate. As the Depression deepened the real estate subsidiary accumulated huge losses, so in September 1932 the holding company declared bankruptcy. Before its bankruptcy it had 975 cigar stores and 219 drug stores, but most of its assets were in real estate. The chain recovered and had 1,300 outlets by 1951.
United Cigar Stores became part of United Cigar-Whelan Stores Corporation, then United Whelan Corporation. In 1962, United Whelan was merged into Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation, a film-processing and mail-order seller of drugs and vitamins.