Kahn's Korner
(September 2011)
By Eric Kahn

My Visit to The Pipe & Tobacco Shop, Little Rock, AR

It's been a long time since I had to travel for MEDITECH, the company for which I work. I've been with them for more than fifteen years. During my first eight on nine years I must have flown almost every week or every other week. And each time I traveled, no matter the destination, I always sought out the tobacconists in the area. If it was Phoenix, AZ, I found the local tobacconist, where I got my Old Boy lighter. In Pueblo, Colorado...there was a cigar shop (That's a story I've told many times before.) Cody, Wyoming, New Oleans, Luisiana, Amarillo, Texas (an oversize meerschaum of the head of Jesus...No, I didn't. It wasn't for sale.) I won't even start with my visits on business to London, Scotland and Ireland, and the tobacco induced treasures I found there. Each of these stops, and countless others brought me the reward of travel.I got to meet and greet others with the same interest, seeking the same pleasures of the briar.

Recently the opportunities to travel for the company have been limited. Right after 9/11 it was decided to seek other non-traveling avenues to train the sites. And from my vantage point, that was OK. Yes, I missed the interesting folks and the enticing adventures seeking out pipes in flea market 'antique' stores, but I got to be home with friends and family more, and didn't miss any of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club meetings. But just recently, I've had to make a couple of trips for the company. One was to Myrtle Beach, last year. Yes, there was a tobacconist there, if you consider the Tinder Box a tobacconist. But my real fun in Georgetown, SC, was attending a rehearsal of the local theater company's new Broadway tribute, that was opening in a few
weeks, and I was asked to join the cast. Sadly I was leaving the next day, and was due back in the office, it didn't pay anyway.

But this August, I was sent to Little Rock, Arkasas. I wasn't really looking forward to the trip. Temperatures in Arkansas were reaching 103 degrees. The day I landed it was 109, and it wasn't 'dry' either. Worse than that, the hotel I was staying in was a NON-SMOKING hotel. No smoking rooms. But they were kind enough to let me smoke out on the patio....in 109 degree
heat, bless their hearts...If you have experience in the south, you know what 'Bless your heart' really means. At any rate, it's just a good thing I am not addicted to the pipe or it would have been murder. So, the first day seemed to get cooler a few hours after I got there, and I decided to venture out on the patio. Of course the clouds were rolling in, and they were dark menacing ones, But I was determined that I would manage just a small bowl out on the patio. I got out there, ready to light my pipe. I had just struck the match and at the same instant, lighting lit up the sky, and then someone squeezed real hard on those clouds, because the water came down hard. I was just five feet from the door of the patio, and I got wet, I don't mean dripped on,
I mean wet. No, not drenched, but definately wet. So much for my pipe that day.

The next day I was to go to one of the local hospitals to train them. Even though I was in a non-smoking car..hell, OK, I cheated. I lit my pipe and smoked on my way to the hospital. It was a five minute drive. I barely got the Comoy going with my Condor when I had to set it down and park the car. See you at lunch, pipe. The morning training went well and soon enough the lunch hour was upon us. I called the break, and suddenly lunch boxes appeared. One for every one of the attendees, and for the presenter...me. How lucky can I get? My pipe is patiently waiting for me out in the car in 100 degree heat. I wondered if it would start to smoke all by iteself. Oh well,
guess I'll have to wait until class is over and I go back to my hotel. As usual, I start asking about tobacconists in the area. One of the attendees comes over to me and says, "You want the Pipe and Tobacco Shop on South University." He then gives me directions. It's not far really, just a few miles. "Thanks," I said. And soon my day long lecture ended, and I was in the car on my way to the tobacco shop.

I really didn't know what to expect. I pulled into a strip mall and looked for the Pipe and Tobacco Shop. When I spotted it, I knew it was going to be the perfect shop for me. How? It's logo. It's the same image I use on my Ex Libris stickers for my library. It had to be perfect. I walked in and
sure 'nuf (as they say in Arkansas) it was as good a setup as one 'cud want. I'll let the pictures I took describe it for you. But as to the folks. they were as friendly as they 'cud be. Five or six of 'em were settin' down round a table just smokin' their stogies and jawin'. This trip I had a
sidekick with me. Matt, my new co-worker, joined me to see how I do a training, as he may do some of them, too. So he tagged along. I was so happy to find this place I was feelin' down-right generous. So I bought Matt a Punch cigar for him to enjoy. I spotted a Macanudo. It was a maduro with a big metal ring on it. Looked like it would be a nice smoke so I chose that for me. I paid for the cigars,and we lit up.

Then Matt and I introduced ourselves to the owner, and he intern introduced us to the six smokers at the table. One of them, Eric, (yes, another Eric) had worked for Lane Limited, in his youth, and had also done some staining of pipes that were either for Dunhill or Charatan. We spoke a great deal, and he reminisced about his days going to Las Vegas for the big smoke show and meeting with so many of the now famous pipe makers, including the Savinellis and Brebbia families. I'm going to keep in touch with him.

After a wonderful two hours of conversation and smoking, Matt and I excused ourselves and headed back to finish up the day working at the hotel, answering emails, etc. I will forever remember this trip.

Photos of my visit

Me in front of the shop.

Soon as I walked in I knew this was a smoker friendly place.

This is a shot in the front of the counters

Walk right in behind the counter to see a load of quality pipes
And you can touch them....

That's Matt in the stripes. Eric is next to him with the big moustache

This is the back of their business card. Hope you can read it. Great philosophy.

In case you want to visit the shop, or do some business with them.
Their icon is the same icon I use for my Ex Libris sticker in my books.

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