News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
Talbert Pipes Website - Kentucky Fried Popcorn - My Web Comic.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pipe Market Future, pt 2

Today's pic is a photo of a rod of acrylic that I cast for myself back in the US, when I still had easy access to acrylic casting supplies. I call this material "Sargasso", for obvious reasons, and it makes a very attractive stem when coupled to the right pipe.... the challenge is in finding the right pipe! But, this has nothing to do with the bulk to today's post, which is the continuation of yesterday's article about the possible future of the pipe market, as imagined by an email contributor. Here are Gary's ideas:

I think access to a good pipe shop is important. I don't think I would have seriously gotten into it with out stumbling across McCranie's when I was about 42 years old. It also helps to be able to handle different pipes, feel the textures and shapes, to begin learning what fits you best. Only then have I been able to do much internet buying and make solid purchases. And I have bought a lot through the internet and quite a few on-site at McCranie's. I think it might be important for pipe shops to re-envision themselves. They perhaps should not all look like going into someone's club house. That still feels too cliquish too me. Have you seen the store front for Neat Pipes? http://www.neatpipes.com/ Wow! It is open and inviting and modern. It feels like you could come in and browse without getting looked over for approval by a bunch of "old guys" sitting around smoking. It looks accessible. I think this is important to think about.

It might be worth a shot for some big pipemakers to try some carefully designed ads showing a different "story" about how pipesmoking may be enriching and alluring. I'm thinking Esquire. GQ. A lot of men's magazines spend a lot of pages showcasing "what's cool". They appeal to a desire for nice things. High-end pipes are nice things. But whether such ads in such magazines would be cost effective-I don't know. But there needs to be someway to get new images of pipesmoking and really fine pipes out before a more diverse market of men who perhaps have never even thought about it because of old images of 1950's Dads or nerdy beardy guys (I'm beardy but not nerdy). But smart and self-confident is good. Think Sartre and his pipe.


(The problem here is one of money. Even the big names like Dunhill and Butz-Choquin lack the sort of financial resources to regularly advertise in such publications - or at least they are unwilling to do so - and smaller players are priced completely out of the picture. There are friendlier venues like P&T magazine available, but again, we have the problem of preaching to the choir)



Women and pipesmoking? Well, that's even tougher. I would want to hear from some women pipesmokers and I do not know any. But I can't help but wonder if there are a few specific subcultures of women who also could be drawn to it. I just don't know which and I do not know what the "story" would be that would make pipesmoking an appealing experience for them. Or if most pipe designs are in fact not appealing to women. For some reason I think yours, especially the more diminutive Mortas might be appealing. Very cool pipes. I don't have one yet.

There is also something appealing about a pipe with a bowl size that doesn't seem to expect you to smoke a big bowl full. A smaller bowl actually fits pipesmoking as savoring rather than consuming. I do also like the weight and heft of larger pipes because they just feel good in my hands even though it may take me 2 days to finish a bowl.

Internet merchants might try designing their sites with more easily accessible knowledge for beginners and promote good books to that effect. Really good multiple angle photos of pipes for sale helps a lot. You do that well. I also like what http://www.smokingpipes.com/ does and the little blurbs he writes about each pipe. I've bought several from him and returned several too. He never hassles me and I appreciate that or I just wouldn't bother. Sometimes the way a pipe looks and the way it feels in reality does not match for a person. It just goes with the territory. I also like the email notifications from you and others. Important. It reminds me to think about pipes again. And if I see one I really like-well, I'm hooked. I think pipesmokers must all be a bit obsessive-compulsive, maybe.