Although I am called Pipestud by just about everyone in the pipes & tobaccos hobby, the name I go by most days from friends and family members is Steve (to be formal, my given name is Stephen Fallon). Back in 2001 when I decided to start selling pipes and pipe tobaccos on eBay, I wanted to come up with a name that would attract attention. After much pondering I decided that I wanted my eBay handle to be “Pipestud,” I thought that I’d first try that name out on my beautiful wife, Beverly, seen in this photo taken of us while posing for our church’s annual directory. She is the marketing Vice President at a local bank in Waco, Texas which is located about 10-miles north of where we live (Robinson, a rural community of about 8,000 people), and I depend on her judgement regarding marketing strategies and often run things by her first before making a marketing decision. One evening, while she was was sitting on a couch in the living room reading a book, I came in from my shop which is behind the house and said, “Bevy, I’ve finally decided on a name for the new eBay business that I’m starting. I’m going to call myself Pipestud!” She looked up from her book, smiled, and said, “That’s great honey. Who knows, you may now finally become a stud at something.” Sigh.
I joined the pipe smoking hobby at the age of eighteen during my senior year of high school and my passion for this wonderful hobby has only grown over the past forty-eight years. I guess that I have just given away my age, but rather than say it, I’ll let you do the math. I was a disc jockey at a local radio station in Waco, and our news anchor was a distinguished older gentleman named Bill Herring. Bill always had a pipe in his mouth – well, except when he was broadcasting the news – and I loved his pipe and the smell of his tobacco. One day I got up the courage to ask Bill to take me to a local pipe shop to help me pick out a pipe and tobacco for myself. He agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.
I was born in San Antonio, Texas and grew up in Waco where I attended McLennan Community College after returning home from military duty. I was drafted into the US Army in 1972 and served two years as a sports broadcaster for the Armed Forces Network in Frankfurt, West Germany, and was honorably discharged in 1974. I spent the next 23-years of my life as a radio and television sports broadcaster in Austin, Texas where I worked for local NBC and ABC radio and television affiliates. I was one of the play-by-play announcers for the old Southwest Conference Football Network. I also broadcast for the University of Texas football and basketball teams and also served as the radio play-by-play announcer for the NFL Houston Oilers. I also kept busy as the track announcer for 18-years for Manor Downs Horse Race Track. After all that travelling for so many years covering sporting events, I decided to stay home more often and in 1997 I moved back to my hometown – Waco, TX. – where I took over as CEO of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, a position I held for 17-years before retiring. I had begun selling smoking pipes and pipe tobaccos on consignment through eBay in 2001 to make a little extra money, and opened this website (pipestud.com) in 2006 to expand my business. I always had a goal of being my own boss and running my own business, so, when I retired from the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, I ramped up my pipes and tobaccos marketing and sales and remain a professional re-seller of those products today.
Many of my friends find it hard to believe when I tell them that despite my professional successes as a sports broadcaster and as the CEO of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, helping that organization grow to be the largest state sports museum in the country, my proudest achievement has been establishing and growing my website. I have worked with well over a thousand hobbyists (many of them multiple time customers), helping them with the dispersal of their collections of pipes and pipe tobaccos. And, in the almost 12-years of running my website, I have sold to and for pipe and tobacco enthusiasts in both the United States and fourteen other countries (as of Dec. 2018). I continue to sell and consign vintage/rare tobaccos as well as pipes as I continue to make a successful living for myself and my family while also continuing to generate enthusiasm for this wonderful hobby to the best of my abilities.
I have been honored to be the guest speaker at pipe show banquets for both the West Coast Pipe Show and Greater Kansas City Pipe Show. And, I attend about four or five pipe shows a year around the country as both a buyer and a seller. My goal is always to entertain the attendees as well as show them ways to enhance their own love of the hobby. I have made literally hundreds of new friends over the years – and picked up a lot of new business – by attending pipe shows. If you’ve never attended one you may want to consider it because I can guarantee that you will be overwhelmed with excitement and joy when being in a venue with literally hundreds of like minded, friendly hobbyists who share you enthusiasm.
I am a co-founder of the Central Texas Pipe Club, which started up in 1999. We had six people at our inaugural meeting and now have a membership (as of December, 2018) of thirty-two members. We meet monthly and always have a nice raffle and tobacco bar and from time to time I bring in special guest pipe makers to visit with the membership and try to make a few sales for them at the same time. I’ve also made a lot of great lifetime friends over the close to 20-years that we’ve been meeting monthly.
Other endeavors of mine: I enjoyed being a regular contributor to Tom Dunn’s Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris by writing hopefully entertaining and informative articles. It was my pleasure to be a participant in the Ephemeris from 1996 until its cessation in 2005. I enjoy and continue to be a regular contributor to the North American Society of Pipe Collectors six times a year publication, The Pipe Collector (I write articles in each issue about our hobby), and also advertise in that publication in order to support the NASPC and hopefully, help keep it thriving.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I regularly attend many pipe shows each year – sometimes as an exhibitor and other times as an attendee. It is my thought that by supporting and attending pipe shows and donating pipes and tobaccos for each show’s raffle and/or door prizes, I am helping to promote this great hobby that I love. I think my most sought after goal was attained at the Kansas City Pipe Show back in 2007. Although totally by accident, I won the show’s Slow-Smoking contest that year. Don’t tell anyone, but for the entire length of the competition I had gotten some tobacco stuck up in the shank of my pipe, preventing me from puffing too fast. I always puff way too fast in those contests to make sure my pipe stays lit long enough to keep me from being totally embarrassed by being the first one out! That’s probably a major reason as to why I normally finish near the bottom of the pack each time I enter one. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good – which, in a nutshell, is the story of my life!