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S&M Brands sold, operation shuttered

South Boston News
The S&M Brands cigarette factory, now closed for business. / March 13, 2019
S&M Brands Inc., a cigarette manufacturer based near Keysville, shut down operations Thursday after 25 years in business.

Owner Mac Bailey said he was not at liberty to disclose who purchased the company or the sale price for S&M Brands, but he confirmed that he and son Steven were out of the cigarette manufacturing business, and the majority of the company’s 87 employees have been laid off. Those left behind at the Ontario Road location are mainly clerical staff.

The company webpages, and, were no longer accessible on the internet by Monday morning.

Bailey said the price he received for the sale of S&M Brands was “nowhere near as much as the rumors have it.”

Mac and Steven Bailey started the company in 1995 after Bailey decided to expand the family business beyond growing and brokering tobacco. S&M Brands quickly found success producing and marketing cigarette brands Tahoe, Riverside and Bailey’s.

A separate company begun in 2014, Cornelius & Anthony, produces premium cigars such as Lex12, Cornelius, Daddy Mac, Venganza, Meridian, Senor Esugars and Aeria brands. The Bailey family still owns and will continue to run that company.

“It was the hardest decision to make,” Bailey said of the sale of S&M Brands, adding that it needed a parent company that would be in a better position to market its product nationwide. The market for S&M Brands cigarettes is primarily limited to southeastern United States.

The success of S&M Brands is a tribute to the hard work and perseverance of the Baileys. While the family has been in the tobacco business since 1860 when Cornelius Bailey first planted the crop in Southside Virginia, they were growers, not manufacturers.

It fell to Steven to first learn how cigarettes were made, then develop a blend that smokers would enjoy, and finally create a supply chain for their product. Steven Bailey once said it took nearly seven years before S&M Brands was on solid financial footing. The Baileys went from selling cigarettes from the back of a pickup truck to producing 2.8 billion annually by 2016.

Once they made the decision to sell the company, Mac Bailey said he and son Steven didn’t want to “leave his people [long-time employees] with nothing.” He shared some of the money he received from the buyer — just over $1 million, said Bailey — with these employees.

A letter sent to wholesalers on Wednesday, March 6, signed by Steven Bailey, thanked the outlets for their support and credited them with helping the Bailey family “to realize the American dream.”

Mac Bailey said he does not know what plans, if any, the buyer has for the Tahoe, Bailey’s and Riverside cigarette brands, but he said he has no desire to get back into the cigarette manufacturing business.

At age 75, he said he’s also not ready to retire. Bailey has cattle to tend and plans to grow about 150 acres of tobacco “for maybe one more year.” He’s also left wondering what to do with his Keysville manufacturing plant that now sits empty.

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Hate to see them close! Baileys cigarettes were very popular in the area and employed a lot of people who are now without jobs. People do not realize how much money tobacco puts in people's pockets!


I hate to see them close. Tahoe has been my cigarette of choice for years. I hope the new owners keep that one out there.


A great America company!I enjoyed working here and hoping to retire with this company but it was not meant to be.I am grateful to the Baileys as they have always treated me like family ,As anyone in the tobacco industry knows it is challenging! May God bless the Bailey family and all my friends and coworkers as we move forward!


I can't believe this is happening to this great Virginia business. We switched from Marlboro to Baileys long long ago to promote Va business and save a ton of money and Baileys were identical in taste to Marlboro. This is tragic indeed.


I live in Richmond and have used Bailey Menthol 100's for years. I'm sorry to see the company close & employees lose their jobs. I enjoyed the flavor but I always liked supporting a local company. I grew up in a family of tobacco growers not far Keysville. I've been buying cartons of my kind when I can find ever since I heard the news. I want to wish everyone well in the future & thank you for a well made product.


I hate to see tahoe go out of business. I have smoked the Evergreen menthol for years now


This was shocking news, with no warning. Bailey's Menthol 100's have been my preferred smoke for over 15 years, and nothing else out there measures up. Guess now I'm gonna have to finally quit....the hard way.
My appreciation and thanks to all involved, for a consistently excellent and superior product. Y'all done it Right!


grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I'm so freaking angry over this... I just bought the last 3 cartons from the little store here in town, got into it with a customer who said I was being selfish oh well... I hate whoever bought this company just to shut it down... I hope your whole family gets cancer.


Having moved to Gray, TN 25 yrs. ago, I consider myself a Southerner. About that time I bought my 1st pack of Tahoe & have stuck with that brand ever since. I knew very little about the manufacturer & was curious as to why its distribution was limited to only a few states. The product is a great blend that offers satisfying taste, as-well-as consistant quality. I would like to impress upin the new owners of this product line, its former employees & the Bailey family that with everything good about the brand (taste, packaging, logo, graphics, price, etc...) would make it a nationally desirable product. I encourage its continuance in the tobacco industry.


I have smoked tahoe cigarettes for a long,long time and it took a long time to find one I liked. I really hate they are closed. Hope the new owners keep it going and keep our favorite cigarettes. Hope the Bailey family has a blessed life together.


I am so sad to hear the company closed I haven’t joyed Riverside blue one hundreds for quite a few years and I have no idea which brand will taste almost the same so I guess I’ll have to experiment so sorry that you had to close finding a brand of cigarettes that you like and enjoy is not going to be an easy task but I will say I will send prayers for everyone who lost their jobs that God can guide them sorry to see it again


Just not right close the doors to making Tahoe cigarettes when some have been smoking Tahoe cigarettes for 20 years OR more.. With no warning. The people whom makes cigarette depends on people to smoke for their finacel... But this will cause these people to stop smoking for good,then no financial for you any more


This sucks..... I've literally smoked Tahoes for as long as I can remember. There's not any other cigarettes out there that taste the same as a Tahoe. It's been hard to find what little is left and now trying find a new brand sucks. Hopefully the new owners will put them back out there. If not I honestly refuse buy any of their products.


What a shame, I went down town this morning and the clerk told me that the last of Tahoes in the racket were the last they had to sell .. And since I smoke only the Tahoe gold 100's, I bought the last 2 packs from the rack.. What a shame .. But I wish the Baileys much happiness in the future.. Sorry to see you close the plant .. but am overjoyed that Mr. Bailey looked after his employees and shared some of his Wealth . that is something you would never see from another company do that for their employees.. ..


So, you mean to tell me there isn't ANY place or way to purchase overstock??! That's Bull....they would want to make as much profit as pissible!


I was wondering if they company might sell the recipe for the Tahoe cigarettes to someone else to make the cigarettes, but a different name.


I am upset as well for I have smoked Tahoe menthol 100's since they started. I hate this but am hoping they will continue to make them. If not, I suppose I will stop smoking because I will not pay what they want for so called name brand that has the same thing in it. I guess it is time to quit, which is a good thing. I am not mad at the family for making a decision for their best interest but would have loved to have known more long before hand. Also, the pissed off person should never wish anything bad such as they said in their comment, things ha e a way of coming back and I would think they would have done the same thing in the same position. Shame on you. Thanks for a great cigarette at a good price.


They did not spread no 20 grand to employees. They honestly left us with nothing. But they did keep it a secret and we had to bring all of our product back in a day to get nothing. And came up with new plans and strategies to sell more cigs to our store owners and told us we would be paid a bonus for doing so and we dumped all of there wear houses stock in a couple weeks and then called and told us all we didn’t have a job on a moments notice, we did not even get 1/4 of our monthly pay. And made us sign papers to not say such as they go on there good ol boy p.r stunt! liars

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