Back when I was younger – a lot younger, I used to be amazed at how a lot of my fellow pipe smokers seemed to be so, well, messy with their smoking hobby. I’d go to pipe shows and visit the tables of pipe smokers who had ash everywhere on their tables and even on themselves! Some vendor tables displayed dozens of well used pipes that didn’t even appear to have ever been cleaned. Darkened rims, cake build-up, even food stains on the outer bowls for cryin’ out loud! Who would do such a nasty thing? And when I started my own pipe club over 20-years ago (it has grown tremendously and is still going strong, thank you very much), I couldn’t believe how many of the older members actually saved their pipe cleaners to reuse later. Disgusting, right? One old boy wears the same shirt and blue jeans to every monthly meeting. His clothing has little burn holes all over the place. He says that’s because he tends to drop hot ashes on himself and figured that by wearing the same shirt and britches, he won’t be ruining his entire wardrobe. I once asked the guy what he wore when he smoked at home. “These” he said, as he pointed at his clothing. And speaking of darkened rims, there’s another fellow in our club who always has darkened thumbs because he uses them to tamp his pipes!
I used to keep my pipes spotless. After each smoke I made sure to wipe off any darkening displayed on the rim. I’d give the stems a good rubdown with Flitz cleaner and I’d make sure the bowl interiors were wiped clean of any residue. I’d then take an EverClear soaked pipe cleaner and run it through the shank and stem followed by a dry one. I would then throw those cleaners away and put my now spotless pipe in its proper place in my rack. I am still good about emptying my pipes after smoking them and wiping out the bowl with a paper towel, but nowadays I don’t toss pipe cleaners and they do come in handy again when I light and smoke my next pipe. And think of all the money I save by recycling those cleaners. Yes, a few ashes fly away on their own during my smokes. I just can’t seem to find the time to chase them down and put them in the trash every five minutes, so it does get a little “ashy” in my shop from time to time. BUT, while I may have gotten a little sloppy with my pipe smoking cleanliness, you still won’t find food stains on the outer bowls of any of my pipes!
Okay, having said the above, I decided to invite all of you into Pipestud’s little corner of the world – my consignment shop where I live and breathe for close to 24 hours a day – well, not really but sometimes it seems that way. As you can see, I keep a sign on the door to the shop to keep thieves away. After your visit, you can tell me whether I continue to be the suave and debonair individual that you pictured me as being, working in a super clean and tidy workshop. Or, do you think that as I have continued to age I have become one of those, God forbid, pipe smoking slobs.
Pipestud’s Consignment shop is actually a separate, but attached building behind my home. I say separate because the ventilation and heating and air conditioning is separate as that is what my wife demanded, I mean requested, when I had the shop built. Over the years I have accumulated a few knick-knacks to spice up the entrance presentation. Other than the dog, I’m usually the only one who visits the shop regularly. My wife (Beverly), does come out here every once in awhile just to make sure that I’m still alive and working hard because for some reason she likes the bills to get paid.
I spend a lot of time at my computer, so I make sure that I have a nice little rotation of pipes on the desk to choose from whenever I decide it is time for a smoke, which is not as often as you might think. Between typing, chasing down pipes and tobaccos to list, working on the item descriptions and shipping orders, I can nurse a single bowl of tobacco in an average sized pipe for several hours. I usually get out here by 5:30 AM each day and spend the first hour or so going through emails that need answering, packing and preparing for shipping any orders that came in overnight, and checking out the sports page of my local newspaper. I do admit that I go to Facebook to accept Friends requests from anybody who is a pipe smoker. I forgot to mention that the first thing I do when I get out here is take a few swigs from my morning cup of coffee and alternate those swigs with puffs on a freshly lit pipe. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I do each evening prior to leaving the shop is get a pipe loaded up for the next morning. That way, when I sit down with my coffee I’m ready to take on the day. Nicotine and caffeine can jump start a day better than any other day starter on the planet. Don’t you agree?
I am usually selling for about 25-35 consignors a week when it comes to selling pipes on my eBay site and tobacco on my own website. How do I keep up with all of that, you ask? Well, it is indeed a very scientific method. I keep a chart of when all packages arrive – usually 3-4 packages a day, and move them to my off-site storage building which is climate controlled and even guarded 24/7. Can’t have anyone running off with my consignors pipes or tobaccos! I am daily sorting the pipes and tobaccos and charting the listings for both sites. I use a scheduling system offered by both websites so that I can set the pipes and tobaccos listings for each site to begin on Saturday mornings. Each consignor’s product(s) goes into a bin that has been professionally assigned to them by handsome sticky notes. That way, I always know where to go when it comes time for shipping. I ship approximately 80 orders a week and one has to have a very professional way to keep up with all the tins and pipes. I sell approximately 150 tobacco tins and 35 pipes each week. So those sticky notes are a must!
And in order to keep up my image, I do need to have a stash of pipes of my own to display to all who enter the shop. Okay, it’s only my wife and my dog, but I do have a large glass encased display cabinet where my very fine pipes can remain dust free, yet be seen by the mobs who may come in to see my fabulous work area. The display also has an area where I keep tobacco that I may be smoking, an extra pipe or two for any emergency that may crop up, and of course, my one speed food processor that is always at the ready when I need to grind up some tobacco to smoke.
And I seem to use a kazillion pipe lighters each week so I have to have a nice stash of quadruple refined butane fuel at the ready. And I even keep business cards on that particular shelf in case someone drops by to see my little palace. Sure, they’re dusty from having sat in their holder for years, but one must always be prepared, right?
Finally, I am a safety oriented fellow, so I make sure that when I am either in the house or away from home, Pipestud’s Consignment Shop is well secured. Woe be to anyone who tries to sneak a peek inside the shop when I’m away. Or worse yet, break in and steal some of my pipe cleaners or a pack of sticky notes. Posted by the entrance is my ever alert Daisy. She is half English Bulldog and half Boxer. Sure, she’s now 11-years old, arthritic and sleeps most of the time, but as you can see, she is ever on the alert and 70 pounds of pure trouble for anyone caught trespassing. So, rest assured that when you send me your fine pipes or tobaccos to sell on your behalf, they are always safe. Daisy, wake up!