As I pointed out in the comments to the blog post, this is awesome. Nice to see another B&M pop out of the ground fairly near to where I live. I'm fortunate enough to be in Victoria, but a day trip to Nanaimo might be just the ticket for one of those lazy dog-dangling afternoons.
I visited Steve for about an hour this afternoon and found him very amiable, unlike the B&M vendor on the other thread today. The shop is small but located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. He has one whole wall of cigars, that being the largest part of his business. His passion is however pipes and pipe tobacco. He has an excellent selection of pipes under $90 and some good ones as low as $30. Under glass he has some up to $190 including Peterson's and Stanwell Hans Christian Anderson pipes.
It doesn't take much to get him to rant about tobacco taxes in Canada and he admits that he cannot compete with online prices for tinned and bulk tobacco. However Simon, you might be interested to know that his house blends (of which there are 18)are $7 less than at a shop in Victoria. I purchased a cherry blend, Gabriola (I know, I know what a nube but I have never tried one) and it was pretty good. All of his premium quality blends have local geographic names. He has an excellent selection of tinned tobaccos too including brands such as McClelland's, Peterson's and Solani. I noticed that he has tins of Irish Flake and University Flake that are no longer available at the on-line shops
The shop is very nicely laid out. Unfortunately, smoking lounges are not permitted here. I hope his business does well and encourage pipe puffers to support the Smoke Rings shop in Nanaimo.
What he can NEVER ever offer in low prices he will have to make up for with great selection, knowledge and even greater service. If I was in the area, I would definitely support the local business with my patronage as much as possible. Taxes be damned to a degree, smokers have to reward these brave souls for their risky investment - an enterprise dependent entirely upon tobacco sales is an extremely hard business to found in Canada, of all places. Some loyalty is required if a brand new B&M is to survive. Best of luck to the company and I hope it serves you folks on Vancouver island well.
My usual haunt is Goodfellas here in Victoria, but I will definitely make the time to visit. antipodesman, do you live up island? If so, this is a great thing for you! Be sure to post some pics in the "Pictures of your B & M" thread.
If he had any of the Stokkebye blends, I'd be there tomorrow morning. Can't get them around here.
He certainly had Escudo if that is what you are looking for.
Yes, I am quite pleased that he has opened. He isn't interested in promoting a pipe smokers club. He sees that as something against his interest in the current retail environment. Pipe club members never supported him when he was on the mainland. They mainly encouraged new members to purchase online.