A Smoker Friendly State
Pipe Shops and Other Stuff
A bell indicating that someone had entered the store downstairs which meant another trip up and down the stairs. But he left me on my own to look around and sent my wife up to join me. When he rejoined us I asked him how the pipe business was doing and surprisingly he said "pretty good". I was happy to hear it. After looking a bit more I finally decided on a Wessex rusticated Canadian and we headed back downstairs to pick out some tobacco. I picked up a tin of Frog Morton Across the Pond dated ’04 and a tin of Dunhill 965 (Lanes). Mr. Karagianis told us how he and his son Peter Jr. run the shop together and that his son
does the tobacco blending, so I decided to pick up a few ounces of their house blends which I have unfortunately not got around to trying yet. On our way out we noticed a framed newspaper article that had been written about the success of their shop and along with it a photo of Peter Sr. and Peter Jr. looking quite proud and happy to be in business together. I'm happy for them as well. It was a very enjoyable visit and I highly recommend that you make it a point to stop by then next time you're up that way, say hello and try a new cigar or pipe.
The next stop was Lebenon to our cozy log cabin with a king size bed in front of a fieldstone fireplace and located just ten feet from a branch of the Pemigewassett River. Although this winter's been extremely mild, it was a bit colder up here and they had recently had an inch or so of snow. We dropped of our bags, check out the cabin then headed into the town of Littleton where we were told they had a variety of restaurants and shops. One of those shops was Rae's Smoke Shop which was the second of my pipe shop stops. But it was already past 6:00 PM so we took a quick walk through the town then had some supper before heading home to a nice fire and a few cold bottles of Red Rack Ale, a delicious microbrew we discovered which is brewed from the Woodstock Inn & Brewery in Woodstock, NH (highly recommended).
The following day we headed back in to Littleton for an excellent breakfast at the Littleton Diner, which was another step back into yesteryear and also highly recommended. After breakfast we took a stroll down Main St to check out the shops and the infamous candy store that is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest candy counter. Right next door to the candy shop was Rae's Smoke Shop. Rae's was quite different from Happy Jack's in many ways. Although it too has been around for many years it looked more like a watch or jewelry store from the 60's than a traditional tobacco shop. It was very neat and organized without all the clutter, old pictures and cigar store Indian that we love to see in the old time smoke shops. Glass wall cases lined the walls with neatly arranged boxes of cigars. The main counter of sparkling clean glass separated you from the shop owner and ran down one side, across the back and back up the other side. I was happy to see the cases on the left side contained a nice variety of pipes but their tobacco selection was limited. The back and right sides cases were filled with knick-knacks and jewelry which actually turned out nice since it gave my wife something to look at while I examined the pipes.
The proprietor was somewhat quiet and reserved but seemed to have a good knowledge of pipes and said he's been smoking a pipe since he was 14. He took out any pipe I was interested in and always some information to go along with the particular brand I was looking at. I told him about our club and asked if I could take a few pictures for the newsletter but he told me it was their policy not to allow any photography inside the store. It seems like a pretty strange policy to me but when you think about it, it sort of fits the feel of their store. He told me I was more than welcome to take photos of the outside of the store. I liked many of the pipes I saw there but wasn’t sure if I was going to buy another one on this trip, besides the no photo policy put me off a bit. I told him I’d needed time to decide and would probably be back.
My wife had seen some earrings she liked at Rae’s so we did decide to go back the following day and I could tell the proprietor was happy to see us. From all of the pipes I had looked at the day before he sensed which one I was most interested in and put in on the counter without me asking. Obviously this was a good sales tactic for although I did look at a few other pipes I ended up taking home the one he originally pulled out, a Stanwell 888 shape that I have admired for some time but had never seen in person.
The Cog Railway
Our little vacation was nearing its end and we awoke to find that winter had definitely come to see us off. It was 18 degrees outside with about 3 inches of snow that kept coming down for most of the day. Every shop owner we talked to was ecstatic to finally get some snow. Maybe now business would pick up. We headed home by way of Rt. 16 and stopped in North Conway for awhile to check out a few more shops and have some lunch before continuing on. It’s always hard to end a vacation but its always good to be home at last even if the Christmas tree was now dried and shriveled.
So if you ever get up to the White Mountains be sure to visit Happy Jack’s in Laconia, Rae’s in Littleton, the Littleton Diner for breakfast and be sure to pick up a sixer of Red Rack Ale. You won’t be disappointed. One last note. We did find one brew pub in Littleton called the Oasis. It was fair but not highly recommended. On the other hand, while researching the Red Rack Ale online I did find that the Woodstock Inn & Brewery where is brewed may just our next spot to visit in NH. If you like microbrews and country inns, you might want to check it out yourself. Here’s their website.
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