A Budding Friendship – Holy Smokes

They say a friend of a friend is a friend, and that’s sometimes true in very unexpected ways. For Natalie Tosado and Jason Prado, a friend of a friend helped take them out of the city scenes they’d grown tired of and into a more peaceful lifestyle in the Keys. 

Jason Prado was working as an event promoter in Miami, more involved in the night scene than soaking up the sun, when opportunity came knocking. A friend was franchising his business and offered Jason the chance to open a location of his choosing. Jason immediately thought of the Keys. He and his father often came to the Keys, and now as a father himself, Jason wanted to share the same experiences with his son but on a more permanent basis. He opened his first franchise in Key Largo and made the move to his new home.

Natalie Tosado’s journey started farther north, all the way in New York City. She moved from the Big Apple to the Magic City nearly a decade ago, exchanging one metropolis for the next. Soon after, she opened her first franchise in Pembroke Pines.Finally, working in the same franchise, Natalie and Jason met and became friends themselves. They decided to join forces to open a Holy Smokes shop together in Islamorada.

Like Jason, Holy Smokes was the excuse Natalie’s family had been looking for to make the Keys their permanent home. Now, they get to enjoy the Keys life every day instead of only on getaway weekends. When not working at Holy Smokes Islamorada, Jason and Natalie can be found out on the water with their friends and family. Their boats are actually docked across the canal from each other, constantly reminding the two entrepreneurs to play as hard as they work. And play they do, making the most of Sandbar Sundays, fishing, and boating to restaurants. Of course, in order to play hard they do have to work hard. Holy Smokes Islamorada celebrated its Grand Opening in December and have already gained local regulars that appreciate their high-quality wares and knowledgeable customer service.

“Our staff knows the products backward and forward,” Natalie explains. “Their training never stops, with pop quizzes and weekly tests to make sure they can provide the most informed service to our customers.”

Growing that knowledge base is quite the undertaking, especially since Holy Smokes is known for a wide variety of products and brands. Unlike other smoke shops, Holy Smokes doesn’t just stock the most popular products. When they carefully select a brand, they carry the entire line. Their glass products also set them apart. A talented glassblower in Miami custom-makes many of their glass products and Jason and Natalie hand-pick the rest.

“We invest in high-quality, imported and American-made glass because our customers deserve the best.”

Natalie and Jason want to bring more fun to the community than just the products they sell. They partner with local bars to host regular pop-up events with food trucks, drinks, music, and big sales on all store items. Their next pop-up event is scheduled for March 26th, held in their parking lot. The biggest event of the year is just around the corner on April 20th. All Holy Smokes franchisees are coming together to throw a big party for their customers and all who’d like to join. The day will be extra special for Jason, whose birthday just so happens to be 4/20.

For more details about the pop-up events and the April 20th celebration, follow @HolySmokesIslamorada on Instagram or visit the shop at mile marker 82.

–  Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.

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