STICK THIS IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT
Three years ago they had installed comfy chairs and televisions to encourage people to spend time and money at the store. Now they have removed all chairs save two, and imposed a rule that ONLY folks who spend a minimum of twenty five dollars per day can smoke there. Only two customers at a time. If they smoke what they bought that day.
Otherwise just pay and leave.
That excludes most of us. Even the cigar aficionados.
We patronized the place purely because we wished to support a local tobacconist, where we could smoke without being harassed by the vicious wheat-germ snarfing anti-tobacco healthnazi Berkeleyite earthmoms so common on the streets of San Francisco.
[Five days a week, for over five years, I would head around the corner with my pipe in my mouth, to purchase a box of cigarillos at the store. Often I ended up buying several tins of tobacco there too - much of my personal stockpile was purchased locally - and I have also acquired over a score of pipes from them.]
If we are not welcome, why should we patronize them?
A tin of pipe tobacco which sells for $17.95 in San Francisco is only nine dollars by parcel post, and cigar smokers can save nearly seventy percent by not shopping locally.
Yes, we cannot smoke in 'Parcel Post' (there is no actual place named 'Parcel Post', alas) - but we can't smoke at the tobacconist either.
The pleasure of shopping in SF is, perhaps, not worth the extra money - certainly not when the pleasure isn't pleasant.
There are several reputable tobacconists on the internet.
They will welcome your business.
Cup o Joes
Pipes & Cigars dot com
All three of these internet merchants are reliable and have excellent selections of pipe tobaccos. The first one listed ships orders by next day post.
Vermont Pipes (Pipeworks & Wilke) has a good selection of house blends in addition to pieces of wood, and offers a number of other services like repair and restoration. Carol, the proprietor, knows her stuff, and has been selling pipes and tobacco to an appreciative clientele for decades. Her blends are highly rated.
Pulvers Briar (Marty Pulvers) is how the previous owner of Sherlock's haven keeps himself entertained now that he's retired. In addition to being one of the most knowledgeable fellows in the business, Marty is also a witty and beloved fixture of the Bay Area tobacco scene - many of us fondly remember afternoons at his shop turning the air of the financial district blue in good company. If you need a fine collectible from one of the famous pipe makers of the past, he's your man.
CORNELL & DIEHL and G. L. PEASE
Decades ago Craig Tarler acquired a tobacco company named after an exotic dancer (the wife of the previous owner). After changing the name to Cornell & Diehl he packed the entire shebang up and moved to the country with his wife. He's been manufacturing and inventing fine blends ever since. For several years now he has been producing Greg Pease's blends also.
Both Craig and Greg have experimented in recent years with pressed tobaccos, to extraordinary effect; I am staggered by the results, and highly recommend what they do.
Bear in mind that I have always been a smoker of traditional English blends - Greg's Westminster and Craig's Red Odessa are among my favourites - but dammit, these flakes are fine stuff.
Cornell & Diehl and GLPease tobaccos can be bought from Craig at the internet site shown above. You can also discuss your order with him - he wants to make sure you get something that makes you happy.
All of the on-line entities listed above will smile, say hello to you all, take your money ("thank you!") and provide compensatory merchandise for the pleasure of taking your money.
It isn't complicated.
Times have changed, boys and girls. We can no longer rely on local tobacconists.
Feel free to patronize the internet instead. Spend your money wisely.
It could be argued that 'pay-up-and-piss-off' is normal for the retail trade. But when all your customers are aware that they can get what they want over the internet for considerably less, and far more reliably besides, that is no longer strictly true.
Additionally, when most of the customers know more about the merchandise than the merchant, and are graciously willing to put up with shortages entirely unknown on the internet, there has to be something to pull the people in - mere convenience does not prompt daily spending.
[Perhaps mere convenience does work for cigarette smokers - but they had already been chased away two years ago. "We don't sell cigarettes, snnnnfff!"]
The joy of discovering new things, too, was not a factor, as frequently customers would ask about very well-known products with which the owners were not familiar, and with which they intended to remain unfamiliar.
The respite of sanctuary kept us coming in; the glow of other times made us overlook interpersonal ineptness and occasional uncomfortable moments.
But it has gone beyond that.
NOTE: If you wish, you may contact me directly:LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
Labels: THE WALL