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 Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?

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Brewdude

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Age : 65
Location : Near the Emerald city
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:33 pm

Used to have a way great B&M that was somewhat local to me.

They had a world class smoking lounge, a great selection of pipes of all brands and prices, plus a super assortment of tins and bulk. In fact one could sample a pinch of a bulk or any of the multiple tins that were opened before committing to a purchase.

I bought several of my initial pipes from them, my first 3 Petes and a Wiley and they have proved to be consistent performers. Being a regular I got a nice discount too.

They also had a fantastic cigar humidor.

Sadly they couldn't compete with the influx of e-commerce, plus the punitive taxation in my state. I'll always lament their passing. I did what I could to support them but the tide of events overwhelmed them. And that was over 10 yrs ago!

Have to also think their location was expensive to maintain. While not necessarily in a upper class area it clearly must have been a big nut to crack.

All to say that I'm in favor of supporting the local B&M. Even if their prices are a bit more. The service I received through them was worth it's weight in gold. Learned a lot and connected with many other enthusiasts.

Times have changed. Now there are virtually no B&M's who cater to pipe guys. And the few that do charge 2 or 3 times the internet price for a tin. Not hard to make a decision anymore.

No 


Cheers,

RR
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thedeep



Age : 70
Location : Indiana
Registration date : 2008-09-10

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:23 pm

I just bought two tins of McBaren's HH blends from my usual B&M. Cost me $18 plus--for each. I can get them online for $13 plus. So, I spent an extra $10 to do business with my B&M. But, I've been doing business with these guys since 1974. I try to support them--even if it hurts. If I were going to spend $100--I'd go online.
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PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:59 pm

Most tobacconist's money is in cigars these days. Pipe smokers are cheap compared to a cigar smoker. Our money is in the pipe. This guy needs to stock a few Savs, Petes and MMs and sell the tobacco as cheap as he can. It's called a "lost leader". He should be a salesman as well as a tobacconist. Know your customer. You'll puff your way through that 50g tin and be right back. It's a chance for him to sell you that sweet looking Pete at a 25% markup. You could get it at 10% over cost online but he keeps your baccy in stock and at a good price. And his customer service is great. Keep the customer stopping by regularly! That's the key to B&Ms.

If I owned a B&M I would charge what it costs online with shipping.

$9 + $5 = $14 = Reasonable convenience price. I make money.

Run a buy 5 get one free deal to even things out from time to time. Always try to keep some things changing and staples in stock. Tinned tobacco isn't perishable.

I have family in the boating industry. You don't try to sell a sailboat owner the same electronics you'd try to sell to the sport fisherman. You'll lose a sale. You make your money indirectly.

It's a business. Make that money... Or watch your business die.

Every tobacconist who claims to cater to pipe smokers should sell domestics like GLP, C&D and McC. They have a good selection and are generally available. The others can be a little less consistent.
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HCraven

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Age : 48
Location : Fort Wayne, Indiana - Home of the Falcon
Registration date : 2012-12-09

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:27 am

Ocelot55 wrote:

Here is a question for all: at what point does a B&M become more attractive than online? Or, let me phrase it this way, what if you had a local B&M that carried a medium supply of pipes and pipe tobacco, charged about $15 for a $10 dollar online tin, but they let you smoke inside, offer to buff your pipe for free, are knowledgeable about tobacco, and have excellent customer service. Would you be more likely to spend more money and time at this B&M or is price the only consideration when buying tobacco?

I think in my case, selection is the main factor that drives me to the online retailers. If my B&M carried half the stuff that the big online outlets have, I'd probably never bother ordering. I don't usually exceed the free shipping threshold when I do, either, so the slightly inflated prices at the local shop are still fairly competitive, and I've been a regular customer of theirs since I started smoking back in '89 or '90.
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Dutch

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Age : 52
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:40 am

Let me ask a hypothetical question concerning AJ's original question.

If you as a pipe smoker were offered a job in Bethlehem, PA. and you accepted, would you still go back to the tobacconist where you previously lived to buy all your tobacco? Would you still be loyal enough to go back and support the local economy where you previously lived?

Would the local economy where you previously lived be more important than the economy where you currently live? If so would earning your money in one locality, and going back and supporting the local tobacconist where you previously lived weigh on your conscience for any reason? Smile 
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PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:38 am

Dutch, I think his point was that he does still get services from the shop and wants to see it succeed. But, it makes no fiscal sense to purchase tobacco there. It is a dilemma he'd like to resolve to benefit both parties. Hard to do and if he talks about it that can impact the relationship. Unfortunately, I think that talking to him about it is the only solution with the offer of a compromise to keep the relationship without feeling had.

It isn't so much about local economy as relationship.
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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:09 pm

JKenP wrote:
Dutch, I think his point was that he does still get services from the shop and wants to see it succeed.  But, it makes no fiscal sense to purchase tobacco there.  It is a dilemma he'd like to resolve to benefit both parties.  Hard to do and if he talks about it that can impact the relationship.  Unfortunately, I think that talking to him about it is the only solution with the offer of a compromise to keep the relationship without feeling had.

It isn't so much about local economy as relationship.

Ken, certainly AJ has a friendship that he cares about, but he is also torn between supporting his local tobacconist and local economy, or buying online from a larger corporation which he feels in the long run, could put his local tobacconist out of business.

I'll bet if he saw the statistics on profits and tax collected on pipes and pipe tobacco alone, the only thing he would primarily be worried about would be the friendship.

In my area, there are 4 retail cigar shops. 2 of them carry pipes and pipe tobacco, and the other 2 don't even bother stocking pipes or pipe tobacco. There is a reason they don't care to invest the money, especially in the pipe end of the business.

Times change, and in another 50 years I'll bet e-commerce will have turned another corner several times over. Unfortunately, the manufacture of the 5 minute cancer stick, has ruined the tobacco industry as a whole, and the average American cannot tell you the basic difference between pipe/cigar smoking, and cigarette smoking. You can bet that the insurance companies plan to lump us all together as well.

IMO, the cigar and pipe industry should consider several lawsuits against the major cigarette companies, for all the trouble and profits they have cost them.
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KevinM



Age : 74
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:48 pm

Good back and forth going here. You could open a neutral discussion with the shop owner about tight times, and then try to shift gears to the higher price of a tin of tobacco. Then introduce Internet prices. Then ask if he would accept Internet price + tax + shipping. (i.e., position yourself as just another guy feeling the squeeze and looking for a little relief) I've found that references to non-present controlling spouses are helpful for getting such discussions off the ground.

Shifting gears a bit -- My missus and I had frequented the same Italian restaurant on weekends for 30-years. It had passed through several generations of the sme family. The owner would come to our table and sit with us. Then, in 2008, every dish they served showed evidence of penny pinching. The food got worse and worse, The old waitstaff left, and the newcomers did stuff like describe their female problems while taking orders. We actually sent some meals back, but this seemed to have no lasting positive effect. So we began auditioning new weekend spots.

We quickly learned that if we drove another 1.5 miles we'd get fresher food and 15% lower prices. After a month or two, we were strategizing whether or not to go back to the old place just to see . . . Then, while stopped at an intersectiom, my missus spotted the old restaurant owner in the car beside beside us. My wife smiled and waved, but our old friend glowered, put her nose up and turned right. Ah, well.

Basic, ground-level capitalism has built-in mechanisms to hold down prices and costs. It's not real good at preserving friendships. But it can be done, though with great care.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:13 pm

Fortunately, there isn't a comparable analog model for "Tobacco Wal-Mart." Even the biggest of the big pipe/cigar retailers are much smaller and more personal than any Wal-Mart is versus the much-loved corner grocery.

I've read a lot of things here that I myself, and probably all of us have considered. Local vs web. Price vs people. Economy vs availability.

Here's the thing: you can do both. I do. Me? I don't like shopping for pipes sight-unseen. I just don't. That's why I hardly buy them, plus you clowns keep sending me random packages with pipes in them. Laughing So what I like to do is encourage more pipe rotation and purchasing from my local Tinder Box, while yes, a chain, but also a franchise that's been owned by a local guy for quite a few decades here in Reno. The tobacco prices are downright expensive, so I only pick up a tin when there's really something I want to try or I'm missing from the cellar.

Otherwise, they know I purchase tobacco online...except...I get my rare stogie from them, maybe once every couple of weeks. I'm not a huge purchaser, but I'm a valued customer. I help with new pipe smokers, tobacco and sometimes upkeep of the place. I'm a good house guest, and it benefits them--and gives me something to do.

If it's very simply a matter of heart-over-economics for one of you chaps, if you smoke three bowls a day, and shave it down to to, consumption will balance out the extra cost, and you'll have your cake and eat it too. It's called "compromise," and there's even such a thing with compromise with your compromises. Laughing It makes the world a little easier to get along within. I love you

No one wants to see the B&Ms go under so one superwhatever can take over, but there's plenty of ways to make it all work out.

Right now, I see anti-tobacco laws being a bigger threat in the short term over "...is WalPipe.com gonna shut down the corner tobacconist..." 🤷 That'll piss on everyone's parade!

Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:59 pm

Lets not blame the big box operations here. They follow a different business model. They don't really compete in the same arena as a pipe shop. It is more like other specialty stores in the mall. Those business often have an extra distributor in the mix and start with some added cost that requires a better markup.

Other than some possible volume discounts, I imagine that the local store has the sames suppliers and pricing. Small shops without the volume then either need higher margins or they fold.

Many local shops don't want high volume. There's is a comfortable business as long as it stays profitable. With the Internet, there is the rub. There business will shrink and you can't blame a company that did develop an Internet presence.
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Dutch

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Age : 52
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:29 pm

Here is another tale from one of my local tobacconist's that I find amusing.

Remember the guy I referred to who has been hired to manage my favorite cigar shop, who has ruined the experience for a lot of us.

Well, one of the things he likes to talk about his customers behind their back about, is buying off the internet. If any of the shops customers are not spending as much money as he thinks they should be spending, then he talks about them when they are not around, and accuses them of buying off the internet among other things. Regardless of whether he knows it to be fact or not. While he is doing this, he hopes he will intimidate or guilt anyone within earshot, of not buying off the internet or doing business with any of their local competition.

Well, one day about a year and a half ago, I was in the shop enjoying a nice cigar, and he was busy packing up boxes to be picked up later by UPS. One of the other customers got inquisitive, and asked him about what he was shipping out. He explained that they had a lot of customers out West who liked to buy their house blends off their website, because some of the states out West have much higher state taxes than Alabama.

He doesn't appreciate it when a tobacconist from Pennsylvania sells to a consumer in Alabama, but he has no problem when his boss from Alabama, sells their tobacco to someone in Texas.

As they say, "He can dish it out, but he can't take it."

The majority of the time, people are loyal to the dollar.

Always have been and always will be.

I'm not saying it is right, but the longer you live, the more you will see it validated over and over.

When it comes to money, some people have few limits, and many double standards.


Last edited by Dutch on Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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serif365

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Location : Austin, Texas
Registration date : 2012-08-31

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:18 pm

We have a local pipe shop called "Pipe World" that has been in business here in Austin for 30 years. I know the owner and some of his staff. PW's smoking room was grandfathered in Austin's drive to ban smoking EVERYWHERE and it is one of the rare non-residential areas left where you can sit and enjoy a pipe or cigar with other like-minded adults.

It had been several months since I had been in the shop so I stopped by last week. I felt so guilty for my "online distracted" tobacco-buying from P&C that I bought three higher-end pipes. You know, it does mean something to be able to pick the pipes up and feel their balance, construction and design, something you can't do online. Once I made my selection the owner took the pipes and buffed out the chambers and shanks to ensure there were no surface aberrations. He also polished the bowls and stems before "wrapping them up". Online purchasing will always seem sterile and impersonal compared to this type of service. Unfortunately B&Ms are going the way of the dinosaur and I'm afraid they will soon be extinct as well. They had their place once upon a time and they will be missed.
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Slide



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Location : Benton, Louisiana
Registration date : 2011-11-23

PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:11 pm

I'm not so sure the Local B&M will be extinct.

I think the current danger is from the FDA possibly stopping the sale of pipe tobacco and cigars online. Just my opinion.

I purchase a lot of tobacco online. I go to my local shop and buy whatever he carries that I like. I buy the occasional pipe from him, all of my pipe cleaning supplies, lighters and lighter fuel/fluid.

His tobacco prices are about 60% higher than online. The vast majority of that is a result of state taxes. He can't help that.

I sat down with him and looked through a couple of his vendor catalogs. I told him if you get these tobaccos in I will buy them from you. We also discussed bulks. He indicated the problem was I was the only customer asking for those. SO our agreement was when I can no longer buy online he will order it for me but I take the full 5lbs.

He knows he can have my tobacco tin business if he wants it. He knows he will get my bulk tobacco business eventually.

Some areas with low taxes and an active pipe community have it pretty good. I was in Springfield, MO for the past couple of days. The have Just For Him. Nice folks, good prices in store and reasonable taxes. At JFH I picked up a few tins, some GH Rope and the rest of the Stonehaven they had on hand. 5+ ounces.

Springfield also has The Albatross. It is a Hooka Bar that has a very good selection of pipe tobacco, some nice estates and an a selection of new pipes. They also have probably the biggest selection of nasal snuff in the country. Very cool place and as with JFH, very friendly staff. Here I picked up some SG St James Flake, F&T Blackjack and some GH Happy Brown Bogie

If you pass through Springfield both are worth stopping buy and spending some money.
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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: Dilemma: B&M or Online Retailer?   Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:46 pm

Two more quick examps on pipe retailing --

1st -- The capitalist system works most efficiently when two parties --just buyer and seller -- are involved. Pipes and tobacco markets are being, um, "helped" by third parties, as we see.

2nd -- For years I've been trying to add a Peterson 120 to my Dublin collection. Without success. I want a plain briar and mouthpiece pipe with no ornamentation. No military mounts or such, and no P-lip, thank you. I've looked in every local shop I've been in and online. Couple years ago, an iPipe business advertised receipt of a new shipment of Petes. I visited their site and put 1 2 0 into search. Lo!!! There was my pipe. I clicked on it, other hand grasping for Visa. Then I noticed the sub-head -- S O L D. It had been available for maybe ten minutes, and the helpful text said something like this -- "It's strange that this plain style of Peterson Dublin is so rare. This is the first we've had for years. But we've left the picture up just to show that Pete still makes them." #!*&XYZ!!

I finally ordered one from another online purveyor who assured me they can get it without the expense of a special order, but it will take six to eight months. I'm now in month two. I hope they realize they're not dealing with some young whippersnapper with time to waste:| 

So even at its best, the pipe market operates in rather leisurely style.

I've dreamt about my first smoke in my Pete Dublin.

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