I’m really embarrassed that I’ve gone so long without posting, but we’ve made a lot of changes, so let me give a little recap, here.
The big thing is that we moved our warehouse and shipping operation into the same building as our main brick & mortar location. It was a monumental task, and I have no idea how Bobby was able to get the computers, the network and our communication system up and running so quickly. It’s taken a while, but we’re finally all settled in, and things are working better than expected. With everyone all in the same building, things are a little quicker and more efficient.
We’ve also started implementing changes to deliver better customer service, and if the feedback is any indication, our innovations seem to be working.
Berry Nice, our new aromatic is on the website. It is a non-goopy black cavendish scented with blackberry, wild berries, black currant and brandy. What’s nicer is that the berries come through in the flavor. Next up will be Steamroller, a hard blend to classify. It is mainly Burley and Virginia with unflavored black cavendish, Perique and a hint of Latakia. Because of the darker Burleys and the Perique content, it packs a bit of a nic wallop and has a uniquely intriguing flavor. Expect it in November.
We’re also looking into a possible arrangement that will allow us to have wider distribution of the Hearth & Home brand, bring out more new super-premium blends (thanks to the availability of some tobaccos that I haven’t had access to in many years), all while keeping our prices reasonable and quality high.
One other aspect of this will address one of the longest standing issues we’ve had. A number of people have expressed that they wish that our tobaccos had more time to marry before shipping. Unfortunately, due to space limitations and the fact that this is a one-man operation, it’s nearly impossible for me to make enough to stay ahead of orders sufficiently to allow them to age. If everything comes together (and I will know by October), we’ll be able to put a lot more time on the blends before they ship. In addition, this arrangement will also afford me access to some higher grade components, and I will be able to pick and choose what I need, but, I’m fairly sure, without much of any movement in the pricing.
For those of you who are into the pipe show scene, I will be representing PipesandCigars.com at the C.O.R.P.S. show in Richmond, Va. on October 2 & 3, and at the West Coast Pipe Show at the Palace Station in Las Vegas on November 6 & 7, where I will be doing a seminar on blending on Saturday afternoon (both of these shows will allow smoking in the venue). I was also really flattered and humbled to be asked by Craig Cobine to do a talk for next year’s CPCC (Chicagoland) Pipe Show on May 14 & 15, 2011. Craig has inherited some large shoes to fill following the lead of Frank Burla, but he’s been heavily involved for quite sometime, and I suspect that the show will be as good as ever. I’m just a little taken aback that Craig has asked me to help out with his inaugural show as director. As I said to Scotty when I was approached, that invitation kind of makes me feel that I’ve “arrived”. I hope to be able to put together an entertaining presentation, because I want to keep the attendees awake for at least the first 10 to 15 minutes.
Some of the buzz about taxes and regulations have quieted down for the moment, and we’re hoping that we’ve seen the last of it for a while, but I wouldn’t hold my breath (which would be far more hazardous than second-hand smoke). In spite of all of this, we’re seeing a modest increase in pipe business, probably due to people switching from cigarettes to pipes.
Here’s hoping that the momentum lasts for the foreseeable future, and I’ll try to write again (much sooner).