President of L.J. Peretti, Stephen Willett on Radio Show of 4/12/2016

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Smoking a Pipe Right Now
Staff member
Nov 16, 2008
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St. Petersburg, FL
Our Featured Interview on The Pipes Magazine Radio Show tonight is with Stephen L. Willett. Stephen is the President of L.J. Peretti, the second oldest retail tobacconist in the country, established back in 1870 in Boston. He actually bought his first pipe there about 45-years ago when he was in college, and now he runs the business! In the "Pipe Parts" segment with the biggest show of the year, The Chicago pipe show, coming up, we though it would be a good idea to talk about how to prepare for going to a pipe show.


 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
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An office one can smoke in is a wonderful thing. Bet he has some great war stories from serving the smoking public.

 
May 5, 2014
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Love their blends (jealous he has a way cooler pic than I did for my interview)

If you've never smoked a blend of theirs call them today

 

slownumbers39

Senior Member
Jul 29, 2012
371
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Had the dubious honour of Stephen assisting me purchasing a new pipe and some tobacco when I went to Peretti's while in Boston.
I loved the whole feel of the shop and especially his demeanor while looking after me. Smoked a few bowls with him while choosing my tobacco in that great store. Loved it and will go back there next time I am in Boston.

 

csharp

Member
Dec 28, 2015
109
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Hopefully there is not a run on Tashkent and Cuban mixture after this show.
It would be uncomfortable to talk about but I am wondering what Mr. Willett thinks of his stores reputation on the internet. It seems like they have become the Andover Shop of the tobacco world http://www.ivy-style.com/a-league-of-his-own-the-andover-shops-charlie-davidson.html
This the quote from the article But to stimulate Charlie’s enthusiasm — to get him to bust out the really rare stuff — one must demonstrate genuine interest in clothes and a certain esprit. With his well known aloofness, some shy customers feel like commissioning a suit from Charlie Davidson is like going to an audition. “He’s a brilliant designer and an excellent merchandiser, but a very private individual,” says Richard Press, grandson of the founder of rival Ivy League haberdasher J. Press. “I always felt that The Andover Shop was a very private commercial enterprise. It served a fairly narrow range of people who met Charlie’s very difficult credentials of acceptability. He didn’t seem to welcome customers he didn’t feel belonged at The Andover Shop. He’s a vastly entertaining individual, but does not suffer fools lightly. ”
Contributors to this forum have made soup Nazi comparisons. Would be interested hearing what advice he would give to first time customers in order to build the best relationship possible.

 

pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,427
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Mytown
Brian, thanks for the history on one of North America's great pipe and tobacco shops.
I think "Soup Nazi" comparisons are a little harsh.
I've had one experience at the store (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/lj-peretti-boston-visit) and know now that the gent who served me on my visit was, in fact, Mr. Willett.
While my first interactions with him were a little abrupt, as soon as it became apparent that I was in the store to buy and had my wits about me the conversation became easy and the interaction was enjoyable. Let's be clear, their is no fawning hospitality or saccharine cheerfulness to service at the shop, but what you get in return is service from someone with deep knowledge of and abiding respect for tobacco, pipes, and the people who enjoy both.
I've given the shop my money since in web-orders and will happily return on my next visit to Boston.
-- Pat

 

texmexpipe

Preferred Member
Oct 20, 2014
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The coffee grounds thing that he mentioned at the end is very interesting. I'll have to give it a try, though I've only fouled a bowl once and that was when I first started into pipe smoking and didn't understand cleaning.

 

pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,427
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Mytown
Coffee grounds are a lot like baking soda in that they absorb aromatic elements readily and easily. Don't go too fine on the grind, mind you, you don't need to pulverize them into flour to have the effect you're looking for.
-- Pat

 

rmbittner

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2012
2,099
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What a joy to hear this interview! I have wonderful memories of buying pipes and tobaccos from Peretti back in my earliest smoking days. But I'd forgotten about the company. Thanks to your reminder, Brian, I just placed my first order with them in about 30 years!

 

rmbittner

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2012
2,099
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Can't help wondering if some of the comments about the character of the shop are the result of not understanding the New England personality of the place. I haven't visited, so I can't comment personally. But New Englanders do have a reputation of being reserved with strangers and not outwardly emotional.

 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
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Contributors to this forum have made soup Nazi comparisons.
Effective people are often perceived this way because they avoid both foolish people and mental spam that arises from interactions with the confused.

 

csharp

Member
Dec 28, 2015
109
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This is the thread I was thinking of http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/ordering-from-lj-peretti-what-should-i-try#post-906602
The radio confirmed my belief. Peretti is a highly ethical and professional store. New pipe smokers are best to surrender any pretense and work and be guided by the staff. Veterans should be precise about what they like and want but should be open to the possibility of of something new.

 

fishingandpipes

Preferred Member
Aug 24, 2013
629
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Can't help wondering if some of the comments about the character of the shop are the result of not understanding the New England personality of the place.
It's a mix. I like the guys. Mr. Willet is a great guy and when I was in college, he's one of the guys who helped me out when I started.
There was Gloucester St. Cigar back then and closer to where I went to school but I'd always make the hike down to Peretti's - that's where the real stuff was happening. Gloucester was like, boutique, lounge chairs, etc. Peretti's was old and honest and even if some of the guys wondered what this young guy was doing coming in there, Steve would come out of the back and chat me and my buddies up. Bought my first pipe from them.
It's a special place. I've met some very interesting people there.
They're straight shooters and don't pull their punches and frankly, we need some more of that.