Is Cyprian Latakia Dead or Alive?

This blog is not intended to be an authoritative presentation but I do want it to be informative and entertaining reading for you. I put it together solely to have some fun by doing a little digging to see if I could definitively find the answer to the questions posed by the title of this blog, and I believe that with a lot of help, I have been able to do just that. So, a special thanks to those mentioned in this article and others in the industry who did not want to be quoted, but who pointed me in the right direction when I hit bumps in the highway, so to speak. Lets start by taking a quick geography lesson together. Where the heck is Cyprus? It’s a very small island country in the Middle East (third largest country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea – capitol city: Nicosia, and sixty miles west of Syria and thirty miles south of Turkey). As you can see by the red arrow on the map, Cyprus is not a large country and almost swallowed up by many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. Cyprus has one of the warmest climates and warmest winters in the Mediterranean part of the European Union. The average annual temperature on the coast is around 75 degrees during the day and 57 degrees at night. Generally, the warm temperature season lasts about eight months. For the leaf and woods used for their precious Cyprian Latakia production, the agriculturally productive soils were vertisols located in the Mesaoria Plain and along the southeastern coastline of northern Cyprus. I purposely used the word “were” instead of “are,” because it has been many years since Cyprus farmers grew and harvested leaves from plants that are extremely close cousins to what we call Smyrna. Without getting too technical, the Smyrna varietals used for making Cyprian Latakia were similar to Xanthi-Yaka (which is a basma type), and Yenidje.

 

Latakia is not a unique type of tobacco like Virginia or Burley for example, but rather the name of the leaf after it has been fumigated (smoke cured). Starting with the Smyrna varietal grown in Cyprus, it was first harvested, and sun dried, before being loaded into smoking barns. They were then smoked, in a manner very similar to Dark Fire Cured Leaf, although more aromatic smoking woods were used. These woods, also located in Cyprus are called ‘Pistacia lentiscus,’ also known as Mastic trees that look somewhat like miniature Evergreen trees to me (see photo at left), and also produce a resin that is used in spices. Research also tells us that a small percentage of Myrtle, Cypress & Stone Pine, are other woods that are sometimes added to the Mastic in small amounts during the fumigating process. In any event, the wood gives the leaf a very unique smoky floral flavor, which has been noted to have uniquely smooth smoking properties, despite its bold aroma. The final preparation is exported in bales, allowing the blenders around the world to finish the product by cutting the leaf to their own specifications such as the broad cut style shown here.

A major reason for concern about the continuing availability of Cyprian Latakia in the future is the political instability of the region and this must be taken into consideration when trying to understand why Cyprian Latakia remains difficult to grow and cultivate and whether or not it will continue to be produced. Below is a bit of very interesting information that I cut/pasted from the official Lobby for Cyprus website, which better explains this little republic’s current instability –

“In 1974 the military junta then ruling Greece carried out a short-lived coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Cyprus. On 20 July 1974, Turkey, using the coup as a pretext, launched a massive military invasion, purportedly to restore constitutional order. Despite the collapse of the coup, restoration of the legitimate government of Cyprus, and a ceasefire agreement, Turkey launched a second invasion on 14 August 1974. Turkey seized 36.2 percent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and it maintains an illegal military occupation in the northern areas of the island to this day. In its invasions, Turkey conducted mass systematic human rights abuses against the Greek Cypriots, ethnically cleansing them from their ancestral lands.Human rights violations have been and continue to be directed against Greek Cypriots because of their ethnicity, religion and language. Such discrimination is explicitly prohibited under the European Convention of Human Rights (article 14) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (article 21). The Commission has found that the acts violating the Convention were exclusively directed against members of the Greek Cypriot community. Turkey has failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race and religion as required by article 14 of the Convention…” For further reading here is the Lobby for Cyprus website link: https://www.lobbyforcyprus.org/invasionandoccupation.aspx

Does the above instill confidence in any of us that Cyprian Latakia production is in a “no worries” we’re safe mode for many years to come? It sure doesn’t bring comfort to me. And to further blur the picture, the Bee Trading Tobacco Company in Cyprus, the world’s sole producer of Cyprian Latakia, has its production facility located in Cyprus and its headquarters are located in Turkey! I readily admit that while doing the research for this blog, I quickly determined that trying get to the bottom of that little piece of information was above my pay grade, so I moved on.

More on Bee Trading Tobacco Company – While compiling information for this blog, I went to the Bee Trading Tobacco website and was fascinated by what I saw and read regarding their selling of the completed Cyprian Latakia product. As you can see, they sell their Latakia in three different grades. The photos (taken from the their website and shown here), are the three grades of finished product that they sell; their Cyprus Fine Scrap Tobacco, Cyprus Scrap Tobacco and then their most valuable, the Cyprus Leaf Tobacco. Obviously, the whole leaf is what blenders covet and all of the whole leaf latakia that the Bee Trading Tobacco Company is currently processing for the first time in many years (more on that in a moment), has been back ordered. Here is the direct link to their website: http://www.beetradingtobacco.com/

In perusing the various Internet Pipe Forums where I did some key wording to see what came up regarding interest in the Cyprian Latakia situation, I found this gem from a forum’s member who took the initiative to email the Bee Trading Tobacco Company to inquire about the current availability of their stock of Cyprian Latakia. Here is the response that gentleman received –

Hello,

Thanks for interest in our tobaccos.
Tobacco grades are late 2018, very fresh.

Currently in stock we don”t have Cyprus Latakia Leaf Tobacco, we currently only have 20,000 Kg of Cyprus Latakia Fine Scrap tobacco, from same leaf but in small pieces.
New bales within end of year. But leaf type stocks out early with pre-orders.

Regards,
Mehmet

Interesting, no? And I have included that tidbit because I have information that supports that email and we’ll get to it in a moment.

Time to Slay the Dragon! – As you can well imagine, there are all sorts of speculations and rumors abounding regarding the present state of Cyprian Latakia. Is it still being produced? If not, when will production resume? Is it still readily available? If not, when will it be available again? These are all great questions and I’ve asked all of them to a variety of people whose opinions I trust because they are not only honest people with great reputations, they are also the “troops on the ground,” and not just a peddler of pipe weed like me.

I recently visited with one of our hobby’s most well known personalities, Brian Levine. Brian was given the prestigious Doctor of Pipes Award at the Chicago Pipe Show a few years ago for his more than 25-years in the pipes and tobaccos industry. He has worked for several tobacco blending companies including two of the world’s largest, Mac Baren and Sutliff. He is currently the host of the weekly pipesmagazine.com radio show podcast and has been one of our hobby’s most vocal proponents for a very long time. I recently asked Brian about the state of Cyprian Latakia and whether it is or will be just a memory one day. His reply, “There is always that concern. I’ve been saying for years that quality pipe tobacco of all kinds will never be less expensive or more available than it is today. Packaging, new government regulations, higher taxes, smoking laws, etc., all combine to warrant stocking up on favorite blends now. Cyprian Latakia is a prime example; the availability has had big time gaps. Fortunately, we have blenders who are skilled and creative and always have compensated by making the best product they can with what is available to them.”

Despite what you may have read or heard elsewhere, Cyprian Latakia HAS NOT been produced for many years. My research did not turn up when the last year of production was, but a couple of the speculations from those who should have a good idea told me that it may have been as far back as 2004. All I do know is that it has been many years. To get as much specific information as I could, an obvious choice to interview was the dynamic duo of Mary & Mike McNiel. Their credentials and willingness to always “tell it like it is,” made them the perfect choice. As most of you know, that couple ran McClelland’s Tobacco Company for longer than the Israelite’s were wandering around in the wilderness with Moses. Their contributions to our hobby are well documented and appreciated. Mike absolutely agrees that it has been many years since true Cyprian Latakia was produced, and that is why we are seeing much lower production of famous latakia laden tobaccos from blenders like Samuel Gawith, Germain, and blending houses in the USA. According to Mike, blends that require less Cyprian Latakia are being made more regularly as the blenders are trying to ration what they have left until more Cyprian Latakia comes into their countries. As of right now, blenders around the world are sitting on, or near, empty! That comment sure perked up my ears. The obvious next question was, “when will we see more Cyprian Latakia exported to blenders in the USA and elsewhere?” Mike’s reply, “I’ve heard that we’ll be getting a new shipment sometime in the spring or summer.”

Now, let me say up front that the final portion of this blog is purely speculative because I cannot prove what I am about to say, but am reporting it to you because I trust and believe the individuals who gave me this information and I honestly think that it is more than a rumor. As a former broadcaster, I always follow Journalism 101’s sacred rule of making sure that I have at least two reliable sources telling me the same thing before going with a story. In this instance, I have three. The new Cyprian Latakia that will be exported into this country and around the world is not going to be quite the same as what it had been in the past. The processing will “reportedly” be the same, but the actual leaf to be used for the smoking process (fumigation), “reportedly” is, for the first time, not of Cyprian origin. Instead, the leaf has been sent to Cyprus from growers in Lebanon. Will that produce a different flavor? I have no idea. Lebanon is on the continent and about 164 miles away from Cyprus., The soil may be different and the Oriental varietals grown and the harvesting process is potentially different as well. I have no knowledge of whether either is different or the same and do not want to project the thought that I do.

Finally – and the most important question – will Cyprian Latakia now make a comeback with regular production and distribution? That is an extremely difficult question to answer for many reasons, so, I think  I’ll take a pass, thank you. All I do know is that Cyprian Latakia ain’t dead yet, and that is indeed great news for all of us… at least today!

Keep on puffing,

Steve

Latakia – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I think all of us who enjoy smoking Latakia, whether on a daily basis or irregularly, are rightfully concerned about the state of Cyprian Latakia tobaccos now that the Syrian version has been long gone. I often get asked why can’t Latakia just be grown by someone in the United States so that we don’t have to worry about its availability in the future? Actually, that is a good question and deserves a good answer. I’m not sure that my answer is a good one, but I did do quite a bit of investigating recently and hope that my information here is fairly accurate.

Syrian Latakia was indeed a wonderful leaf that was grown only in the northern part of Syria where the soil was moderately deep and most importantly, rich with minerals that enabled the Shekk-el-bint plant (see photo), to produce thick and firm leaves that took readily to being sun dried and then smoked over fires that were made with woods from the area (as well as some local herbs), which clung readily to the Shekk-el-bint plant leaves, which were ten to twelve inches in length and quite narrow. Each plant had from fifteen to twenty leaves and once processed, retained a smoky aroma and the distinctive “salty and sweet leather” like flavors and stout bottom that Syrian Latakia fans have appreciated for many, many decades. At harvest time, the plant was cut and the leaves, plus the flowers (called by McClelland’s, “Rose of Latakia”), were spread out on the ground to dry in the sun, then were taken to storehouses where they were smoked for a period of 13-15 weeks with the area woods and herbs. The finished product never was high in nicotine but certainly had more Vitamin N than its Cyprian cousin due to the fact that the leaf had thicker veins which holds the nicotine. There is nowhere in the USA where the combination of deep, dry and mineral rich soils combine with long hot days and cool nights that helped to make the Shekk-el-bint plant thrive. It has been tried but was always a miserable failure.

Why is Syrian Latakia no longer being made in Syria? Back in the 1960’s the Syrian government severely restricted the production of Syrian Latakia due to environmental concerns that had great impact on a lot of other areas of Syria’s agriculture.  Thousands of acres of woods were harvested and burned to make Syrian Latakia and the value vs. return was small compared to other agricultural endeavors. The growers and harvesters could not make enough money to continue production of tiny amounts annually, so they finally just quit. So, the Syrian Latakia shortage began well before the current war and failed economy. And with the unrest in the area getting worse instead of better, growing the Shekk-el –bint plant again and harvesting and processing it is about the last thing on the mind of the Syrian government at present time.

Why can’t blenders simply substitute Cyprian Latakia for the Syrian version? Well, actually they can and do; but only with specific blends where the difference does not greatly alter the presentation. Well known blenders like G.L. Pease, Mike McNiel, Russ Ouellette and others will readily tell you that the difference between Cyprian and Syrian tobacco is quite noticeable when combined with other leaf used in particular blends. The most noticeable difference is the fact that Syrian Latakia was so much more pronounced in its presentation, even when applied gently, and that using enough Cyprian Latakia in a blend to make up for the difference causes a bittersweet taste that does not benefit the presentation of most blends, and in fact, overwhelms them.

Is Cyprian Latakia in danger of going out of production? The short answer, unfortunately, is yes. In fact, there are reports out right now indicating that what we are now receiving from Cyprus is not the same Cyprian Latakia – for a variety of reasons – that was processed and exported even just a few years ago. I’ll cover the latest news that I have discovered regarding Cyprian Latakia, and whether it is also going the way of the Dodo bird in a future blog. I will say this for now; if you enjoy Latakia in your smokes, please make sure you are putting some in your cellar!

Steve

Heartbreaking Stories Happen – Even Here!

Not often, fortunately, but on rare occasions, I get tins from consignors delivered to me that either I can’t sell due to problems with the tin, or, that have been returned because the buyer found a problem that I did not see. Such was the case not too long ago with an almost two decades old 100g tin of McClelland’s Dark Star (factory date stamped to 2000). As most of you know, Dark Star is a flake tobacco and in tins with some air rather than vacuum sealed it’s difficult to tell whether there’s an issue because all air filled tins of flake tobacco have some shake.  One of the things I do is chart the weight of literally hundreds of different blends so that I can weigh them if I am suspicious. As an example, a solid 100g tin of Dark Star should weigh approximately 5.7 ounces. This dried out tin of Dark Star weighed 4.6 ounces.

Tins with dark outer wrap such as the Dark Star, cause additional problems because you can’t see the rust bleed through like you can with a light colored wrap. And with rust, that stuff is kind of like the chicken pox, once the rusting process begins it spreads fast!

With this bad tin of Dark Star, I could see the problem immediately when I took off the outer plastic lid. In this photo you will notice there is a crease along the inner seam that had opened. That’s where the air got in, dried out the tobacco and allowed the rusting process to begin which went on for years.

 

I then took a photo of the inner walls with the dried out tobacco chunks still inside. After dumping the very dry contents into a trash can I took another photo of the empty tin  after removing a couple of pieces of the inner wall lining which was very brittle due to all the rust. Not a pretty sight!

I did debate whether to do this blog. After all, I don’t want my Dark Star tin sales to go into the tank, but thought it would be interesting to share.

I am often asked what the best way to store tinned tobacco is. There is no question in my mind but that storing your tobacco in a cool, dry and dark place is the best answer. A sealed tin will last for many decades that way. If you store your tobacco in your garage or another non climate controlled area, the temperature variations in most climates will eventually cause issues with many tins. Some people say they immediately transfer their tinned tobaccos to Mason Jars. I am not a proponent of that unless you plan on smoking all of the contents quickly. Each time you open a Mason Jar to get some tobacco out to smoke, there is a transference of air and the aging process is then retarded as the fermented gassy air leaves the jar. Additionally, when the new air enters the jar that is an opportunity for the contents to dry out further. If you are going to do the Mason Jar thing, use small jars unless you are planning on long term storage. And do leave them out of sunlight!

What I do when opening a tin of tobacco that I know I will smoke only infrequently, is to to get just enough out to fill my pipe and then transfer the remaining contents to a 4 oz Mason Jar, label it, and put it back in one of my Coleman Coolers for transfer back to my off-site climate controlled storage building. If I were not a seller of tobaccos, I’d do the same thing except put the Coleman Cooler in a cool, dry closet in my home.

Good smokes to all!

Steve

 

Reuniting With An Old Friend

For those of us who are more seasoned pipe smokers (okay, those of us who are old), this story is probably similar to one of your own. I’m talking about when you decide to pull out a pipe you have not smoked in months or years for no reason other than just to get reacquainted. I don’t get that urge very often because the only pipes that remain in my Lazy Susan racks are mostly the ones I enjoy smoking regularly. However, on occasion, for whatever reason, I may go a long period of time without smoking a particular chunk of briar even though I have no particular reason for not having removed it from reserve to active duty status. It just happens. I’ll get back to this thought in a moment.

After many years of having gone overboard with my PAD (Pipe Acquisition Disorder), I decided a decade or so ago to get a handle on my shameful disorder. So, I went through my collection and selected – after many hours of stressful pondering – what I felt like were my top 36 smoking pipes and put them in a couple of 18-hole Lazy Susan style racks (the photo to your left). I keep those racks in a glass enclosed case which is a part of my smoking cabinet where I keep all kinds of smoking related items. I then took the dozen or so pipes that I don’t smoke but are special to me for various reasons and put them away in a drawer in my shop. Over the years as I was pulling pipes out of my top-36 and replacing them with better smokers, I’d take the banished pipes and put them in a drawer, too. And now I’m up to three or four drawers full of banished pipes and have expanded my elite “smokers” to include a third Lazy Susan 18-hole pipe rack. Good Lord, how does one get rid of TAD? I think it’s incurable!

I admit that one of the pipes that I have always kept in the top 36 – okay, now the top 54 –  is an old Duca Barla bent billiard that my wife gave to me as a Christmas gift back when we were dating over 20-years ago. Don’t tell her this but I tried smoking that pipe a dozen times over the years and each time I determined that Hell itself could not burn hotter. Whenever she sees that pipe, which thankfully isn’t often, she’ll ask how her pipe is doing. I always say, “smoking as good as it did the day you gave it to me, honey,” which I figure isn’t really a lie because it didn’t smoke “good” the first time I smoked it and it still doesn’t smoke “good.” That must mean the pipe still smokes “as good” as the day she gifted it to me, right?

Now, back to my original story; a couple of weeks ago as I was going through my pipe racks to select a pipe to smoke, I stopped swirling the Lazy Susans when I got dizzy and right in front of me was an early production Tonino Jacono – he’s a long-time Italian pipe maker and a darned good one to boot – that was the first handmade pipe I ever purchased way back in the 1980’s, although the exact year of purchase escapes me at the moment. This is a photo of that pipe, not a particularly well grained piece but the rustication along the shank attracted me to it as I loved the contrast and still do. I had not smoked that pipe in several years and am not sure why. It had always smoked well. So, I pulled it out of the rack, loaded up a bowl with a favorite tobacco and had a wonderful smoke as I sat on the back patio of my home while drinking a margarita and being thankful that I didn’t live in a cold weather climate. I had purchased that Jacono during my first career as a college and NFL radio sports broadcaster, and as I smoked, I thought back to all the road trips I took all over the country with that handsome Jacono as my companion. Back then the smoking laws were slim and none, and there were many times when, after broadcasting a college football or basketball game (I have a face perfectly made for radio), I would go back to my hotel room, sit down and light up that pipe as I wound down.  What a great old friend! And I felt terrible for having neglected it for so long.

In the two weeks since rediscovering the outstanding smoking characteristics of that old Jacono, I’ve smoked it almost every day and will probably do so again for another couple of weeks before slowly easing off the peddle. After all, my Jacono is getting on in years and may need more rest than it used to. Kind of like me.

Happy puffing to all,

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

How Pipestud Became a Pipe Smoker

Even though I have now been smoking a pipe for 49-years – I started when I was 17, and I’ll let you do the math on how old I now am – I can still vividly recall the first time I smoked a pipe. I was a junior in high school and worked part-time as a disc jockey for a local radio/TV station in Waco, Texas. The news anchor was a grizzled old veteran named Bill Herring and he smoked a pipe. The only time that pipe was out of his mouth was when he was anchoring the TV newscasts – yes, we could smoke freely just about anywhere we wanted to back in those good old days. Bill always smoked Stanwell pipes filled with Borkum Riff Whiskey. Everywhere he went Bill left a trail of the most wonderful smelling smoky odor. He looked very distinguished in his suit while puffing on that wonderful smelling pipe every time he came into the radio broadcast booth to deliver the news to my listening audience. One day, I decided that I wanted to be like Bill and smoke a pipe so that I could look grown up, smart and distinguished too.

One evening in between spinning those old 78’s (I bet a lot of you don’t even know what that means), I cautiously approached Bill as he was preparing for a newscast at his desk in the newsroom. I began the conversation by telling him how much I enjoyed smelling his pipe and that I was thinking about taking up pipe smoking myself. Bill stopped hammering away on his old Smith-Corona, took a couple of slow puffs, smiled, and said, “Boy, I think you’ve made a wise decision.” To shorten a long story, just a few days later Bill took me to Waco’s only mall where our town’s only pipe shop – The Humidor – was located. I was fascinated from the moment I walked into the shop. The smell of the place was heavenly, and behind the counter on a peg board hung about a kazillion pipes of all shapes and sizes. On a shelf under the peg board was a long line of glass humidors filled with various blends, and under the glass counter in front of the owner were more pipes being displayed as well as various lighters, tampers, etc. It all looked so cool – I was hooked! The owner of the establishment, dressed smartly in a tweed jacket and bow tie, joined Bill and I as we looked over the pipes on the wall. After about 20-minutes I chose a Danish looking sandblasted bent Dublin pipe with smooth side panels; a Stanwell second called a Danish Sovereign. The $12.00 price tag on that pipe stretched my wallet but hey, I wanted that pipe in my mouth! So I gave the pipe to the shop owner to set aside for me and then began the hunt for the perfect tobacco.

Bill and I walked over to another wall filled with display shelves of tobacco tins. It was a whole new world to me. Mac Baren, Dunhill, Balkan Sobranie, and many others – probably all now long discontinued. Bill said that most of those blends carried hefty price tags – some as much as $3 dollars! So, he advised that we look at the pouches of blends that were in another area. As we looked over the huge variety I spotted a large box that had the same Borkum Riff Whiskey pouches that my friend always had sitting on his desk back at the radio/TV station. “I want to get a pouch of that Borkum Riff Whiskey,” I firmly stated. “I love the way it smells.” Bill smiled and said that it tasted as good as it smelled and that it was the only tobacco he smoked. So, I added .89 cents to my tab by getting a pouch.

Before leaving the shop and heading back over to the station, Bill got me some pipe cleaners and a tamper to go along with my prized new pipe and tobacco and off we went. Once we got back to the station and at Bill’s desk in the newsroom, he showed me how to load my new pipe and how to tamp once the pipe got lit. We both used matches – I wasn’t about to pay the kind of money the pipe shop wanted for the lighters they had – and I stood by his desk, feeling quite grown up and manly as I took my first few puffs. I thanked Bill and then strolled back out to my car with pipe in mouth, hoping that I was projecting the perfect image of a pipe smoker to anyone who might be looking.

My bedroom at my parents house was actually a stand alone on the other side of our garage. So, I knew that I could smoke out there with no issues. My father didn’t smoke but my mother smoked cigarettes and I felt pretty secure in the knowledge that I wouldn’t get much grief once I told them I was smoking a pipe, but didn’t want to take any chances of them seeing me smoking it right off the bat. I got into my bedroom and lit up again… and again and again and again. Man, keeping a pipe lit was not easy! So, I just puffed harder and faster trying to keep the thing going. I bet I used up a whole book of matches on that first bowl. I actually did enjoy the taste at first, but after awhile with all that puffing, all I could taste was hot smoky air. I smoked that bowl of Borkum Riff Whiskey all the way to the bottom as I was determined to smoke every shard of tobacco.

I smoked two more bowls before dinner and another one right before going to bed. I was still using a ton of matches, packing the bowl too tightly, no doubt, but I sure was having fun being a pipe smoker – until the next morning. I woke up feeling something weird and painful in my mouth and on my tongue. I could hardly talk and when I brushed my teeth with my Gleem toothpaste there was a burning sensation in my mouth that was almost intolerable. Hell itself could not have been hotter!

I have a saying, pipe smokers are born, not made. A born pipe smoker keeps at it until he/she learns proper smoking techniques through trial and error. Back in the 1970’s there was no internet. The only way I could get smoking tips was by ordering an Iwan Ries Catalog that had helpful tips in it. I didn’t smoke my pipe much at first, mainly because I had my tongue in a sling, but once I began the learning process, I decided two things. First, I really liked smoking a pipe and second, that pipe smokers must not have asbestos tongues after all.

Happy Puffing,

Steve

The Annual New Year’s Day Sale is Almost Here!

I know that most of you probably sleep in a little late on New Year’s Day after having stayed up to welcome in the new year the night before, but don’t sleep too late or you will miss my HUGE Annual New Year’s Day Sale!

Pipestud’s Consignment Shop will be loaded up with many rare, vintage and no longer produced tobaccos that are among the most highly coveted blends in the world. Additionally, I will have many long-time favorites with lots of taste enhancing age on them that will be priced to fit both your pipe and your pocket book!

What time on January 1st will the New Year’s Day Sale begin? It will begin some time next Tuesday morning. Those who are in my First Responders email group will know exactly when the sale starts. So, if you are not a First Responder member, I strongly suggest that you join so that you will also be privy to that important inside information in order to get a first shot at some truly remarkable tobaccos! You can join simply by submitting your email address below.

Thanks for dropping in and reading. I hope to have you back on January 1st, if not before!

-Steve

Pipestud is on Christmas Break and My Annual New Year’s Day Sale Info!

This is always a wonderful time of the year for me as I enjoy my Christmas season by taking some time off from work to relax and enjoy the holidays with my family. We do a little traveling, spend time with relatives and simply enjoy some of the pleasures of life that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.

In years past I simply shut down Pipestud.com for the holidays, but now, with an eCommerce site in operation, I have decided to keep Pipestud’s Consignment Shop open so that my customers may continue to make purchases even though I will be away. Although new product will not be added until January 1st, please feel free to place an order if you see something you would like to purchase. I will be back on December 26th and will immediately begin fulfilling any orders received right on through the New Year’s Sale and beyond as it will be business as usual. So, while there may be a slight delay in shipping your orders prior to December 26th, the delay will be short lived.

Thanks again to all of my great customers for your many years of loyal support and my prayer is that this holiday season is a blessed one for you and your families!

Steve

Pipestud 2.0 is a success thanks to you!

Howdy Gang!

There is nothing more gratifying than getting to work in the mornings and finding multiple emails in my inbox that are complimentary of the new and improved pipestud.com – even when mentioning things that they think would be website improvements. So, I first want to thank all of my loyal customers (many of whom have been with me since the launching of Pipestud’s Consignment Shop back in late 2006), and also to thank you for some really terrific suggestions over the past couple of weeks that have helped improve the site layout and functionality.

An example of improvements made due to input by some of you included better navigation, increasing the number of products on each page and what I discovered to be very important to a lot of you; having a “Sold Out” sign on the photo page prior to click through of any tobacco tins that were no longer available. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t think that was going to be an issue when Tech Support asked if I wanted it… and I turned down the offer – GULP!

You are my loyal customers and I can’t say strongly enough that your concerns are my concerns. If anyone ever has an issue with the site please feel free to email me at steve@pipestud.com. And if it is a complicated technical question, I am not the person you want to email as just figuring out how to turn on a computer or mobile device can be a challenge for me. So, those kinds of emails need to be sent directly to my awesome Tech Support team leader, a gentleman named Andrew who not only is a tech-wizard, but wants to be of service and I am sure will be able to address your issues quickly. He can be reached at admin@pipestud.com.

Thanks!

Steve

We survived opening day!

Howdy Gang,
Opening day of the new Pipestud’s Consignment Shop this past weekend was a huge success thanks to all of you! Also, thanks to everyone who took the time to send me feedback and suggestions.  The launching of a new website, especially transitioning from a manually run store to an eCommerce one, can be difficult. But from what you all have been telling me, it’s been a success!
A couple of issues did crop up that my tech team has since fixed, for example –
  • Unable to access cart from mobile browser (woops, that’s kind of important isn’t it?)
  • Showing products as out-of-stock without having to click on them (already done, too)
Currently the focus is to make the mobile browsing experience easier and continue rolling out new product categories, like Drugstore Tins.  I have had a lot of emails inquiring about the return of the popular “Drugstore Tins”page. Rest assured that I will be posting Drugstore Tins that will be available for purchase very soon.  But at the moment I still have a large inventory of product from consignors that I am getting up on the site as I play catch up from the down time while the website was being rebuilt. Once I get caught up, the Drugstore Tins page as well as other really nice bells and whistles will be added – so stay tuned!
Please e-mail admin@pipestud.com if you run into any technical issues or have an idea of a way to improve the site. For all other inquires, I’m always here for you and can quickly be reached at My New Email address – steve@pipestud.com.
My previous aol.com e-mail address is no longer being monitored.  That’s it for now, Happy Holidays everyone!
-Steve
Oh and by the way, this blog was already sent to my First Responders group.. but it also included some super secret awesome information about an upcoming event.  So if you aren’t already a member, you might want to sign up so you don’t miss out on any future events. ;-P

Welcome to the new Pipestud’s Consignment Shop!

As I’m sure you can see, there have been some major changes to my website – namely I turned it into an automated shop; there’s a shopping cart and everything! So say goodbye to sending me e-mails when you see something you want and hoping you got your order in fast enough to pick up your coveted item. And no more guessing or waiting hours for an invoice. Inventory is up to the second accurate. Comments, suggestions or just want to express your outrage and anger at the changes; feel free to e-mail me (at my fancy new e-mail address) steve@pipestud.com, and I promise to respond quickly! -Steve