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30 January 2012

No Smoking in the New Car
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 30, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

My wife and I bought a new car last week. I told her that she wasn’t allowed to drink coffee while driving, because she will eventually, inevitably spill it and thus ruin the interior. This might sound like a rather callous statement, but anyone acquainted with my coffee-crazed wife knows this to be true. She’s a beverage-spiller and a drinking-glass-breaker by design; it's an inexplicable talent for minor, yet unstoppable calamity possessed by this otherwise lovely and endearing woman. Ultimately, and only after a series of desperate, intricate, and at times contradictory objections, she conceded the point, begrudgingly... and only on the condition that I wouldn’t smoke my pipe in the car, either. I should have foreseen such a sly stipulation, but didn’t, as like many men before me, I made the mistake of under-estimating a physically diminutive, girlishly giggling, yet precociously cunning wife.

Nevertheless, there still remain many places I can go to smoke. My preferred smoking habitat is, of course, here at Smokingpipes.com, where I’m surrounded by one of the largest selections of choice pipe tobacco liable to find anywhere in the world.  And considering that we can puff our pipes in the office, I’m not really very irritated that my new car is off-limits to the wonderful aroma of pipe tobacco smoke. And ash can make such a mess, or at least, it can now that ashtrays are no longer necessarily standard equipment.

In addition to our huge catalog of pipe tobacco, we have tons of pipes, and we’re constantly updating our website with fresh inventory. Tonight we’re featuring new works from Tsuge, Vauen, Peterson, Chacom, Dunhill, Radice, and Savinelli. We’re also rolling out two dozen assorted English and Italian estate pipes. And be sure to check out new cigars from Arturo Fuente, and Casa de Garcia.


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 4:30 PM | Link | 0 comments


26 January 2012

Reminiscing On Times Past
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, January 26, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

I received an email a couple days ago from a friend I haven't seen in six or seven years. We both come from a small town in Indiana, population 5,000, and met in sixth grade. We were friends in high school, and even though we attended different colleges made time to visit one another from time to time. Recently he mentioned that he was going to be in Myrtle Beach for business and hoped to meet up. Yesterday afternoon, after picking up my wife from work and running home to change, we drove to his hotel and then to a nice restaurant for a four-hour dinner with drinks and stories. We discussed his life in Chicago, and talked of the various things guys we went to school with, who are now thirty-years-old, do for a living. Other topics included our ten-year high school reunion (which I couldn't attend), some girls from our graduating class that have gotten cuter with age, those that did not; those that are now married with four kids, and the jocks that are sadly exactly the same as they were. He began to tell stories about parties held at my fraternity house, to which my wife laughed until she nearly cried. I wanted to say they weren't true, but don't remember each occasion (I expect this is at least in part why they must have been good stories).

We talked about his career, and he asked how the pipe business was going. It was fun filling an old friend in on various pipe shows and what I've been doing since we last met. He told us about being recently married, going to Hawaii, and what it’s like to live in Chicago. My wife and I talked about getting married in Russia and the other places we’ve traveled over the years. Without fail, he and I often returned to discussing what we missed about our little town in Indiana. Sure, we would both be bored as hell if stuck there for more than three days, but there’s a lot of regional charm, food, and old haunts that stick with each of us to this day. After dinner we sat outside the restaurant, overlooking the water and drinking a couple beers; me smoking my pipe and him enjoying a cigar from my humidor. My wife never seemed to tire from the embarrassing memories. Few things can be as good as sitting with my lovely wife and an old friend, sharing stories and reminiscing about the old days in our hometown 900 miles away, while puffing on a pipe until late into the evening. So much has changed, but some things remain the same. I hope we don't have to wait as long the next time to catch up.

Tonight we have some great new pipes from J.Alan, Tom Eltang, and Lasse Skovgaard. Ashton, L'Anatra, Randy Wiley, Kevin Arthur, Winslow, Nording, Savinelli, Peterson, and Stanwell each boast choice offerings as well. Completing the update are five-dozen briars which can be found in the estate section.

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


24 January 2012

Savinelli Estate Sale
 Newsletter Introduction for Tuesday, January 24, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

We realize that it’s been less than 24 hours since we last sent you our regularly scheduled newsletter. However, after grave consideration, a few rounds of thumb wrestling, a couple bouts of rock-paper-scissors, and a game of Star Wars Monopoly, we decided that we ought to send out another, despite the interruption of our ordinary frequency. What’s the occasion? This afternoon we’re kicking off a pretty bodacious sale: 25% off all Savinelli estate pipes. We even added thirty-six pieces more to what’s currently available so that we might mix things up a little. We’ll be running this sales event for the next seven days, which means that while there’s certainly some really excellent deals to be had, one has only a short window of time with which to act upon such a bargain.

So whether you’re on the hunt for a wicked good deal in the estate pipe market or are a huge fan of some of the harder to find, gorgeous old Savinelli pipes, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the selection we’re presenting, and will absolve us of this break in scheduling.

Until Thursday!


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 12:00 PM | Link | 0 comments


23 January 2012

The Birds
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 23, 2012

       -Posted by eric-

A dark cloud has been hanging over the Smokingpipes offices for the past week or so. No - fear not. It's not a matter of impending, puritanical legislation, or an outbreak of, say, plague. It's the birds, you see - a dark cloud of birds. One of the first things I noticed after moving to South Carolina several years ago was the seeming ubiquitousness of massive, ancient oak trees. That is to say, that the sort of centuries-old titans that I was used to only seeing either center-stage in a particularly nice park, or holding dominion over some hidden corner of the backwoods, here can be commonly found, for example, at the edge of a parking lot. The Smokingpipes parking lot indeed features several of these looming giants - all of which are presently occupied by vast hordes of seemingly very excited, and raucous, blackbirds.

So it is that each morning we enter the building under the gaze of a thousand of beady little avian eyes, and so it is that each time we open the door to go outside, a cacophony of chirping, calling, and squawking comes flooding in. We are not, as of yet, entirely sure what it is that they want, many of us question the pretense that they are merely idly, innocently loitering in innumerable multitudes amongst the vast bough and branches which loom so expansively over our very heads. If there is one thing we've taken away from all this, however, it's just how grateful we are that here, in the state of South Carolina, we may still legally smoke indoors. There are, to be sure, plenty who would have such activities outlawed for our "own good" - who would see us cast unto the merciless whims of nature, lest we enjoy a pipe or a good cigar anywhere that might possibly cultivate a pleasing "room note". Indeed, they would sooner see Adam and I risk possibly being terribly murdered by birds, than permit us to bask in a properly foggy pipe library, safely behind the Smokingpipes office's reassuringly hurricane-proof windows. They'd pat us on the head, no doubt, and tell us Big Mother knows best, and after our bones were picked clean by sandpipers or loggerhead shrikes or the like whilst we were stepping outside for a smoke break, proclaim that it had all been just another example of the inevitable dangers of tobacco. So it goes. Or, would go, that is.

As things stand, however, we're all still alive and well, and therefore able to bring you another update, laden with a wide variety of offerings to assist you in your own enjoyment. Featured today you'll find briars from Vauen, Peterson, Savinelli, Brigham, Johs, and Chacom - not to mention a full four-dozen more from Tsuge, and a neat little selection from Grechukhin's PS Studio workshop. Joining these, there are as well some new additions to our accessories line-up, new cigars from Partagas, a new blend from Altadis, and two dozen more estates.

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


19 January 2012

So Many Pipes, So Little Time
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, January 19, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

One might expect that in aftermath of the madness that is the holiday shopping season, our company wide ‘to-do’ list might have shortened down a little - that maybe, for once, the Smokingpipes.com inter-office hullabaloo would have calmed down and settled into a comfortable, exhaustion-induced bit of lethargy. Fortunately however, it has not. While currently the phones aren’t ringing with the same kind of frequency that they were during the week before Christmas, we are still spending an incredible amount of time looking at pipes, reading (about pipes), talking about them, describing them, and thinking about them. We’re also constantly looking for ways to bring pipes, tobacco, and other such accoutrements to you in the best way possible, whether this means working on innovations in the manner such products are featured on our site, or streamlining the methods we employ to deliver said products to your front door. One happy consequence of this is that our to-do list IS constantly evolving, and, typically, for every item completed from this never-ending task list, two new challenges are added. This is how we keep ourselves busy - barring the occasional interruption to eavesdrop on the absurd arguments that echo down the hall, due to Adam and Eric being in the same room all day. (Last week it was whether the seemingly anachronistic image appearing on a particular Spanish cathedral was "possibly an ancient astronaut" (Adam's position), or "probably a beekeeper" (Eric's). Both, of course, were wrong. )

Having said that all that, we’ve quite a hefty update to share. We’re featuring fresh works from Sixten Ivarsson student, and master carver in his own right, Hiroyuki Tokutomi, as well as new pipes from the likes of Canadian virtuoso Michael Parks, and the very talented Danish carver Peter Heding. Be sure to check out what we’re offering from these incredible pipe makers. In addition, we’ve a prime selection of pipes from Ardor, Ascorti, Brebbia, and Savinelli from Italy, as well as Neerup, Nording, and Stanwell from Denmark. From Ireland we’re offering new Peterson pipes. Last but not least, we’re adding 60 estate pipes to the site.


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 4:15 PM | Link | 3 comments


16 January 2012

When Things Go Wrong
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 16, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

There can be a number of things important to the flow of a company that, when interrupted, can cause big problems. We're all familiar with computer crashes or some other sort of data/phone issues that can make it quite difficult for some of you to order or otherwise get pipes from us. When these things happen, they flat out stink. Sykes and Tommy figure out what is wrong as fast as possible and we get up and running again, but what about when other stuff goes wrong?

Tom and Bill work upstairs as full-time estate restoration guys. They also put in data, and Bill helps inspect new pipes when they're piled up to our ears, but their main tasks revolve around cleaning and refurbishing estate pipes. As it happens, when I came in to work last Friday, Tom informed me there was something wrong with one of the buffing machines. Actually, it was the MAIN buffing machine. Something as simple as a toggle switch deciding to no longer toggle or click, because it's been turned on and off thousands of times over the years, really throws a monkey wrench into the operations. Bill took the machine apart and Chuck called a local shop (30 miles away, as it happens) that, we desperately hoped, would have a suitable replacement part. Of course they did, they naturally assured us, and I drove there to pick it up. And sure enough, it turned out instead to be more of an "almost-close-enough" part. Nonetheless, between Bill, Tom, and me, we MacGyver'd some pieces from the old switch to modify the new one. Three screwdrivers, some pliers, improper files, and one band-aid later, we brought the buffer back to life.

Guys coming together to fix stuff without the proper tools and not knowing exactly what they are doing is just something guys do. We all got some coffee and a few cigars to celebrate, as if we'd just landed on the moon, or at least fixed some important part of the spacecraft, rather than, say, an important tool for pipe-restoration workflow.

As I read over this intro prior to submitting it, it seems like one of those "you had to be there" kinds of moments. It really was a big problem, though. Our moms would be proud of us. I even put the band-aid on all by myself.


Tonight you can check out some new cigars we listed from Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Low Country. The Low Country brand is our store name, and this listing is where you can find some great deals on sample packs we made up. New arrivals from Michael Lindner, Tsuge, Radice, Dunhill, Castello, Chacom, and Sebastien Beo might catch your eye. Oh yeah, don't forget about the two dozen estates. Twelve from England and twelve from Italy. Oh yeah; had we not fixed the buffing machine, there wouldn't be any! ;)

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:00 PM | Link | 0 comments


12 January 2012

Lower Prices on Tin Tobacco
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 12, 2012

       -Posted by sykes-

It's a particular pleasure to be able to offer up good news to the world of pipedom. While I like to think that every update is good news, sometimes there's something just a little extra special. After much number crunching, graph making and careful discussion, we decided to drop tinned tobacco prices across the board. Last month, we increased the discounts you get if you buy multiples of the same blend. This month, we decided to just drop the base prices on, yes, everything. We realize that pipe tobacco has become steadily more expensive over the past few years. While we have little control over that, we can find a way to reduce the price to you, by finding ever more efficient ways to do what we do and save money in other areas.

This is not a special or a limited time offer. This is permanent. Yes, tobacco prices everywhere will likely continue to rise over time, but we've made a commitment to trim that rise back a bit, even if it means making a little less on each tin we ourselves sell. Also worth noting is that the quantity discounts aren't changing. If you buy five or more, you still get an extra 3% off, ten or more, an extra 6% off and, twenty-five or more, you get an extra 10% off.

We're dedicated to consistently bringing you the best selection at the best price we possibly can.

And since our great selection is hardly limited to tobacco, we have a bevy of beautiful briars awaiting your inspection. You'll find spectacular pieces from Japan from Tsuge's Ikebana line and famed pipe maker Smio Satou, you'll find bunches of great pipes from Winslow, Wiley, Ashton and Cavicchi, plus superb selections from Peterson, Savinelli, Stanwell and others. And, of course, don't miss the estates!

 

 Sykes Wilford: Founder/President








Posted by sykes at 4:00 PM | Link | 0 comments


09 January 2012

Searching For the Right Smoke
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 9, 2012

       -Posted by eric-

As previously alluded to by Ted, the Grand Strand's heavily tourist-centric economy can be both a blessing and a bane. The upside is that, whatever you're looking for, some enterprising individual has probably taken to supplying that particular niche, often for the sake of either the locals or the more demanding class of vacationers. The downside is that finding them requires sifting through layer upon layer of tourist-traps, whose offerings range from the blandly generic to the outright tacky. It is akin, I would say, to seeking out a natural beauty whom you know is attending a celebrity impersonators' convention; somewhere, out there, underneath that sea of obscuring foundation and distracting neon blues and greens. You know it, even if you're also a little skeptical as to why she would be there.

Some time ago I was conversing with an old female acquaintance when she brought up how much she had loved clove cigarettes - now banned, you know, for the children - and how, ironically enough, she had smoked so much less when she had them to savor, as opposed to the steady pack-a-day she fell into once "flavored cigarettes" were forced off the market. Naturally enough, when I later found out Djarum had cleverly switched to tobacco wrappers, thus redefining their wares as "filtered cigars", I went to see if I could track any down - and thus lept head-first into much the same imbroglio as Ted faced in his search for rare Portuguese meat products.

From the popular tobacco outlet located in the massive tourist sprawl of Barefoot Landing to various iterations of "(so-and-so's) Cigar Emporium", I searched up and down Myrtle Beach, until I at last found them in a local joint wherein the entire shop served as a single giant humidor, resulting in the entire storefront appearing, from the outside, as one big, foggy, dripping window. The next day I was discussing this matter with Adam, enjoying the novelty of the fragrant, sweet smoke of a "cigar" from an extra pack I had bought for myself out of curiosity... and, sure enough, he turned to me and inquired: "You know we have those downstairs, don't you?" So it goes.

And so it leads, naturally enough, to what hard-to-find offerings we might bring you today, such as, say - killer deals on dozens of Tsuges, joined as well by Caminettos, Lucianos, Brighams, Vauens, Savinellis, Petersons, and Johs hand-mades; a broad selection of estates from origins far and wide; new cigars from Trinidad and Rocky Patel; fresh additions to our accessories section; and last, but certainly not least, four exquisite briars by none other than Benni Jorgensen.

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


05 January 2012

Things We've Found (And Not Yet Found) In The Grand Strand
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, January 5, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

Now that I’ve racked up a year-and-some-odd-months worth of living on the Grand Strand of South Carolina, I’d like to report that I’ve nearly checked off every entry on my list of favored goods which are typically impossible to locate outside of small-business specialty shops (and most of which are foods).

My wife and I have located decent thin-sliced Italian salami, although we still haven’t found the proper bread to share it with. We’re told that this has something to do with the water in “these here parts”. We’ve also discovered a pretty impressive Chinese food place close by; however, the only Indian cuisine to be had requires us to drive 35 miles - though this is something we’ve proven willing to do surprisingly often. Suitable pizza, on the other hand, has to be most challenging to obtain. Again, this is (allegedly) to be blamed on the available water source. There are a lot of people from New York and New Jersey in the area who claim to take pizza fairly serious, so I’m a little shocked that they haven’t worked this out yet - especially since they are frequently asking each other if a source of a "proper slice" (always to be eaten folded in half, for some strange reason) has yet been found. But I digress. There are a handful of Mexican restaurants at hand, but none are as good as those back home in California - I guess this is the West-Coaster's equivalent of the NY/NJ pizza dilemma. Excitingly, however, we did finally pinpoint a sound supply of linguica, a Portuguese sausage enjoyed during the holidays (at least in my house), at a butcher’s shop, after making nearly a dozen phone calls. Though, this too required a lengthy trek, and I can now honestly say that I’ve driven a round trip of two hours simply to purchase meat. It was delicious meat, however and completely worth it. It saved Christmas, for me; it was Christmas-savingly-good meat. Also checked off the list is Zaya rum, a spiced beverage I prefer to Ron Zaccapa, as long as it’s the stuff made in Trinidad (and not that Guatemalan junk). And this New Year’s Eve I was so pleased to sip Plymouth gin once again. I had almost given up hope. On the down side, I haven’t had an apple or an orange in a great long while that could wow me. We sorely miss Trader Joe’s. We haven't found any good, local coffee shops, unless you count the Starbucks with a drive-thru next to a busy highway, which I do not. Additionally, no record stores, either. That’s unless you count BestBuy, which, also, I do not.

Yet in the end I've traded up. Because more than all the aforementioned articles (and many more that I didn’t cite), I aspired to be close to beautiful pipes, rare pipes, expensive pipes, old pipes, and plenty of good pipe tobacco. And that’s exactly what I found in Little River. And I'm far freer to enjoy them here than I would have been in California.

At that, we’re offering tonight a rather splendid, varied assortment of exciting new works from Maigurs Knets and Chris Askwith, along with fresh pipes from Ardor, Ascorti, Brebbia, Savinelli, Neerup, Nording, Stanwell and Peterson. And don’t forget to check out the 60 estates pipes now available as well. All this, and more, you can find right here in South Carolina.


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


02 January 2012

A Fresh Start
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, January 2, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

A new year means a fresh start. Remembering the ups and downs of the previous year, lessons learned, and goals achieved, seems to have many people feeling positive with hope for the new one. Growing up, New Year's Eve was celebrated in my family by having shrimp cocktail, sparkling grape juice, observing the countdown in Times Square [on television], and making excessive noise from pots and pans, firecrackers, and other devices in front of our home seconds after midnight. Other than this, it was just another day.

My wife of three years is from Russia, where New Year's is the biggest holiday by far. Think of it as Christmas, the fourth of July, and Mardi Gras all combined into twelve hours. Everyone celebrates it. Observing both American and Russian holidays has been a lot of fun, and this year was the best so far. Ted and his wife met my wife and I for a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant. Cowboy Ribeye, deconstructed Caesar salad, home-made mushroom/veal/truffle ravioli, seafood bisque, confit, and cocktails of Plymouth Gin and key-lime-pie Martinis were a heck of a way to celebrate the conclusion of 2011. Following dinner, we picked up another Russian friend of my wife's on our way home, while yet another arrived later. The girls were beautifully dressed, wearing heels, and sipping champagne. We had caviar, various Russian salads, and toasted midnight with more champagne and wishes for good health and luck through the new year. Driving around to various places after 1:30 a.m. was perfectly fine for me - I was the designated driver, and wanted my wife and her friends to enjoy their favorite day of the year. Finally arriving home near 5:00 a.m. we opened a bottle of champagne as well as presents to each other from under the tree. Instead of Santa Claus on Christmas, in Russian tradition it's Grandfather Frost that leaves presents on this night.

We recalled 2011's various vacations and trips to pipe shows, and the customers I've met and the friends many of them have become. Pipes are a huge part of what made 2011 a success, and allowed us to visit lovely people as well as places. For 2012, I have goals for my workshop and smoking room at home (meaning that I will finally have one!). I'm going to remove all of my tins of tobacco aging in cardboard boxes, on which my wife drew little drawers and nobs with a marker, into a proper piece of furniture. Something cool like an antique chest, I'm hoping. After all, what could be better than stepping into the spare bedroom smoking room, looking at a growing collection of 18th century items on the wall, stepping over to the tobacco chest to select an aged blend, and puffing on a pipe while relaxing at home?

We thank all of you for a great 2011 and look forward to helping you grow your cellars and collections in 2012! To start off the year on the right foot, we have pieces from Sebastien Beo, Peterson, Savinelli, Chacom, Dunhill, Radice, Lasse, and Tsuge. Don't forget the two-dozen estate pipes!

Happy New Year from all of the staff at Smokingpipes!

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


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