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Nat Sherman – An Icon in Luxury Tobacco for 80 Years

Nat Sherman is one of the most well-known luxury tobacconists in the world. They have had a retail store and smoking lounge in New York City for 80 years now.
They are famous for their own brands of all-natural cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco. As soon as you walk through the front door you will see nearly 100 pipes displayed, as well as over 15 exclusive pipe tobacco blends.
Here is an account of our visit to the store, including a video interview with Michael Holba, Retail Sales Manager.

 

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The store includes a richly appointed smoking lounge (The Johnson Club Room – membership required) with large screen TV, today’s newspapers and several magazines.

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The store is heavily-populated with extremely knowledgeable staff with every employee being an expert in all of the myriad tobacco products.
As a matter of fact, while visiting the store in November 2009, when I took out one of my pipes to smoke, Margery Dine, the Director of Retail Operations immediately said; “That’s a Nording Hunting Pipe”, and she was correct. It is more impressive when you realize that they do not stock this line, and that she is a young woman with this knowledge.

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I felt comfortable and at home right away. Michael Holba, the Retail Sales Manager, offered to let me sample the Tabac Sherman # 536 – Empire English blend. This English blend has a great smooth flavor. There is nothing added to it to create the mildly sweet and spicy flavor. It somewhat reminds me of Maltese Falcon, but a little lighter, kind of like “Maltese Falcon Lite” if there were such a thing. I acquired a 2 oz. bag and recommend you do the same. It was so good, I smoked it all weekend, and I am smoking it as I write this.
You can order it here. Tabac Sherman # 536 – Empire English

You can smoke throughout the entire store. There is an excellent air-purification system. Several of us were smoking and you would have barely noticed it had you walked in from outside.
While at the store, I also had the pleasure to meet Michele Sherman, the granddaughter of the late Nat Sherman, and daughter of President & CEO Joel Sherman. (See our interview with Joel Sherman here.) Not only is she pleasant, charming and attractive, but she smokes cigars and knows about tobacco having grown up in the business. Now that’s my kind of woman!

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Michele popped in for a surprise visit and had nothing to worry about. The store was buzzing with lots of customers all being attentively catered to. The Shermans appear to run a tight ship, and have a well-managed and trained staff. I met 6 different store employees during my 2-hour stay and they were all the epitome of professionalism and warm friendliness.
Michele’s brothers Larry and Bill are also involved in the business.
While many of our freedoms are sadly being stripped away, you can find solace in the fact that you can walk into Nat Sherman’s on 42nd Street and experience the same welcoming attention, gracefulness and knowledge of fine tobaccos that a customer in the 1930’s experienced.
You do not have to be an expert, experienced smoker either. The staff is extremely friendly and they love to take all the time needed to guide someone new into the splendid relaxing world of luxury tobacco. While you’re there, take time to relax and enjoy smoking in comfort just like thousands of patrons have for decades.
Note: If you’re a customer that hasn’t been there in a while, keep in mind that they have moved (in November 2007) around the corner onto 42nd St, just South of 5th Avenue (between 5th and Madison) at 12 East 42nd Street.
Nat Sherman has an interesting outgoing message when you dial their phone number. Press the AUDIO button below to hear it.
Link
Nat Sherman, Inc.
12 East 42nd Street at Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Ph: (800) 692-4427
Nat Sherman’s Listing in the Pipe Store Locator
NatSherman.com Website
Read Our Interview with Joel Sherman Here
See the Nat Sherman Photo Gallery with 80 Photos
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      Matt
    • December 5, 2009
    Simply outstanding video! A nice glimpse into a legendary tobacconist. A stop I hope to make if I ever make it out to NY. Keep the videos coming.
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      Bob
    • December 5, 2009
    Great article and video!
    I am insanely jealous that I wasn't able to make it up there with you!
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      tomsoles
    • December 6, 2009
    Keven,
    Great video! I have been away on a mission for the past month and out of contact. It was a welcome event to see this new post when I got through all of my e-mails. I will be back in my shop getting ready for the holidays and hopefully picking up my pipe cabinet project and 3rd blog post on the building of a personal pipe cabinet. While I was away I purchase a new and additional wood lathe by "Laguna". I will in the future be turning some custom tobacco containers from some of the worlds most beautiful woods. More on that later in my blog.
    Tom Soles
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      Kevin
    • December 6, 2009
    Re: "Great article and video! I am insanely jealous that I wasn’t able to make it up there with you!"
    Thanks Bob. There was two hours of shooting video and stills in the store, plus 8 hours of editing, but we really had a blast in NYC. And you aren't the only one that is jealous they didn't get to go. I caught shit from Laura for a week because she couldn't go.
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      Kevin
    • December 6, 2009
    Thanks Tom! Glad you are back. I was wondering about you. Did you get approval for your hiatus?
    Just kidding ;)
    Welcome home. I am looking forward to your next installment. Do you have a video camera? Maybe we need to send Bob on an all expense paid trip to your house with his video camera?
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      classicrider21
    • December 6, 2009
    All I can say is WOW! This video interview was outstanding. Thank you! It would be a crime to let NY tobacco laws bring a demise to such an established icon of New York. Don't let it happen. Does it really take a population and culture of NY City to sustain a tobacconist establishment? At the same time tobacco is being outlawed the same people are pushing the marijuana agenda.
    Thanks for letting me rant on. Keep up the exceptional work and again THANK YOU!
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      Kevin
    • December 6, 2009
    Thanks Wayne! It makes all worth the while to produce the video when it is so appreciated like this. Mike Holba did a great job too. We pretty much just popped in on him, clip on a mic and started shooting. He is a natural at it.
    In the interview with Joel Sherman we talked more about the "Nazi-isms" of Michael Bloomberg and his anti agenda. It's linked up above the map and here too:
    http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/pipe-manufacturer-retailer-spotlight/an-interview-with-joel-sherman-of-nat-sherman/
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      cortez attic
    • December 7, 2009
    Thanks for providing us with a glimpse of an historic tobacconist that preserves the style, elegance and sophistication that was once a part of the culture.
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      momeerphil
    • December 7, 2009
    Kevin, that's a well done and interesting video. If only there were more Nat Sherman establishments around the country! Even though neither you nor Mike mentioned our pipes, thanks for including them in the foreground in the video. It was great to see our pipes in such a sophisticated establishment. It proves there is a place in every pipe smoker's collection for a good looking, great smoking, 100% American made corncob pipe!
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      Kevin
    • December 7, 2009
    Oh Man! We should have mentioned the corncob pipes! It is pretty neat that they were right in front of us the whole time though.
    Our man Bob did an event in the DC area this past weekend where he handed out free corncob pipes and free tobacco to new smokers. He got about 4 - 5 new guys started smoking pipes this weekend and the corncobs were instrumental in the endeavor.
    I wish I could take credit for cleverly positioning the corncob pipes to be in the video, but to be honest, I think the truth is even better.
    Where you see them is right where they were when we walked in the door. Nat Sherman keeps the Missouri Meerschaum Corncob Pipes prominently displayed on the front counter with the bulk tobaccos. I think that says a lot for their importance.
    Here's a picture too:
    http://pipesmagazine.com/wp-content/gallery/nat-sherman-nyc/nat-sherman-nyc-035.jpg
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      Bob
    • December 7, 2009
    Cobs are great and inexpensive pipes!
    Every piper should have a few cobs in their collection!
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      skymuscle83
    • December 29, 2009
    It's taken me a while to get around to watching the video but well done Kevin!! What a beautiful store!!
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      dunendain
    • February 16, 2010
    Fantastic. Thank you for taking us to such a wonderful place. So informative. I really like hearing how pipe smoking is growing to a new consumer. That is the future of our hobby. I like the comparison to music aficionados. Very cool.
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      dunendain
    • February 17, 2010
    The interview with Mike was also very upbeat, as opposed to the sort of downbeat interview with Mr. Sherman. I suppose that's the difference in a salesman, and the man who has pay the bills. With all respect to Mr. Sherman.
  • B
    ahh this was really cool and kudos to Kevin for the interview and the chance to see this place.. I've been in Manhattan a few times, but was not a pipe smoker at the time and was unaware of this place; my loss!
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      krumblekake
    • August 24, 2010
    A wonderful look into the past, present and future of an icon in the tobacco world! I remember back in the 70's receiving catalogs from Nat Sherman and reading them over and over. Even Nat's catalogs are works of art as is his offerings of pipe blends and incredible cigars. Thanx for the awesome video and for taking the time to interview one of the finest tobacconists in the world!
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