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Friday, August 31, 2007

Rheinbach Afterthoughts, pt 1

Biz news - New pipes are up! There are new Talbert Briars and new Ligne Bretagnes. There were also a couple of new mortas, but they both sold almost immediately. I'll be very curious to hear what people think of the new smooth Talberts (like the one pictured here), and somebody should pounce on LB #07-32 very quickly as that is one extremely neat finish for the money.

August... Where did August go? It seems like only yesterday that we got back from Rheinbach. Between getting the flu and spending a good chunk of my time this month experimenting with new finishes and staining techniques, I haven't done as much pipemaking as usual, but I'll get back to normal production in September. Now that I've had a chance for my impressions of the show to gel, and a bit of time to talk with other pipe folks about it, I have some afterthoughts. I have several subjects to cover, so I'll be breaking them into different postings, with this first being on the topic of European pipe shows.

In my opinion, it was an excellent show. I hope it continues. That said, it did suffer from one serious drawback - exemplified by the conflict with another vendor who tried opening a table there - and that is that it was the sole creation of one retailer. I mean no disrespect or discredit to Achim Frank at all, because if it were me doing all the work, I wouldn't want my competition setting up a dozen tables next to me either, but ultimately this is why the best and biggest pipe shows are the products of pipe clubs rather than commercial ventures. For any business person to tackle that level of work, it has to make money or at least break even, and that's always going to mean trying to maximize the playing field for best personal sales. Shows by pipe clubs, however, get every vendor involved, and those turn into the biggest and best shows... and not coincidentally, the best sales venues as well, because while there's plenty of competition, the sellers don't have to do much more than turn up and cover a table with goods.

So why don't we have a major pipe club-sponsored pipe exposition in Europe? We've got the population, the closeness of geography, and plenty of artisans and factories. It's a serious question, and one I can't answer, not being European myself. Go to the states and there's a pipe club in nearly every state, and many of them host their own small shows... some of which grow into CORPS-sized extravaganzas, not to even mention Chicago. But I don't see this happening much over here, and I'm not sure why. The French pipe club made an abortive attempt with the Mondial de Pipe show near Paris, but that was sunk before it ever started by its own restrictions and prohibitive costs.

There may be hope in Germany, though, with a new show starting in F├╝rth. I was alerted to this show by Rolf Ostendorff, who is promoting it for some good reasons - It's a club-sponsored show and it's being shaped to (with luck) become an international event. They have a really impressive lineup of attending pipemakers for the first show, and even such factory giants as Vauen and Denicotea will be there. Alas, it is in November and there's no way I can afford to attend, but I'll be curious to hear the reports and perspectives, and see where this goes.

Where is our European Chicago show?