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Grants Pipe Shop Closing

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  • Started 2 years ago by saschaillyvich
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    saschaillyvich

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Another S.F. Landmark Under Fire

    San Francisco’s Historic Grant’s Pipe Shop has been served with a 30-Day
    Notice to Terminate Tenancy after 49 years at its current location and 163 years
    in business.

    San Francisco, CA, September 2012 – Grant’s Pipe Shop is San Francisco’s
    oldest operating traditional tobacco shop, and its historic walk-in humidor was the
    first in the State of California. Premium Tobacco enthusiasts from around the
    world have been stopping by Grant’s Pipe Shop’s current Market Street location
    since 1963, but the shop’s history begins with the Gold Rush of 1849. Originally
    supplying miners and merchant seamen with premium tobaccos and fine pipes.
    One of Grant’s most famous customers in the 1800s was local eccentric,
    “Emperor Norton.” Grant’s Pipe Shop is one of San Francisco’s oldest small
    businesses.

    Store managers of the previous shop owner, Edward L. Grant, had an
    opportunity to continue this San Francisco legacy when they successfully took
    ownership in 2004 after Mr. Grant’s passing in 2003. In 2006, the lease expired,
    and the shop has been on a month-to-month lease ever since, despite numerous
    attempts to negotiate for a longer-term lease.

    The Chancery Building, in which Grant’s Pipe Shop is located, changed
    ownership in 2009, but the building’s management, Kevin Colombo of Terra
    Verde Commercial and new landlords Chelsea Pacific Holdings, LP, and
    manager Zack Faidi of Chelsea Pacific Group, LLC, have rejected reasonable
    negotiations.

    Recently, the owners of the Chancery Building applied for a permit through the
    San Francisco Building Department to construct build outs that will affect Grant’s
    current space, including its historic walk-in humidor. When one of the General
    Partners of Grant’s, Joe A. Barron, inquired about details, such as the length and
    timing of multiple planned construction phases and other normal concerns of
    tenants when negotiating these matters, the owners of the Chancery Building in
    return served Grant’s with a 30-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy, bringing about
    what could be the end of this San Francisco institution.

    Grant’s Pipe Shop is the latest in a series of San Francisco landmarks to come
    under fire by local landlords eager to raise rents. Prior to serving the conviction
    notice, the Chancery Building initially suggested doubling the rent in 2009, which
    would have effectively put Grant’s out of business. Additionally, the Chancery
    Building’s management has seemed more interested in probing Grant’s current
    owners into selling the business or misleading Grant’s proprietors over the last
    three years, leading to speculation that the building’s management or landlords
    have never intended to offer the current owners of Grant’s Pipe Shop a long-term
    lease to stabilize this historic shop.

    Grant’s owners remain dedicated to maintaining the legacy and tradition of
    quality expected of San Francisco’s oldest and most well known tobacconist.
    Quality inventory of tobacco products will be on clearance starting
    September 18, 2012.
    ~~~

    Needless to say I’m a bit pissed and upset. As are the guys at Grants

    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. brewshooter

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    What?!?! I was just in there on Monday and picked up a tin of the new Frog Morton blend. It seemed like business as usual, no mention of any issues at all.

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    -C. S. Lewis, English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Dude I just found out yesterday morning and the manager only found out then too. It all came as a shock. There will be a party however and I'm hoping plans for continuation. Luckily my last day working there is Friday and it's a side gig for me, but my heart aches for the others. I've been proud to call Grants my home shop.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. numbersix

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    I just checked their site and see that they hope to increase their online presence. That can make all the difference. You may wish to suggest that they immediately start an ebay account for their blow out sale and announce it on their site.

    "Be seeing you"


    Posted 2 years ago #
  5. brewshooter

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    Well, hopefully, they get a new location figured out. Grant's was perfectly located near the BART and downtown. It will be sad not to be able to drop in when I'm in the city.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. logandow

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    I've never been there, but it sounds like a wonderful place. Such a shame to hear.

    A man without a pipe is a man unprepared
    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. papipeguy

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    It's not good when any shop is forced to close Terrible news

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    sfduke

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    Agreed and shocked here as well about the news. Sad day yesterday to hear that my regular B&M is closing up shop at the end of the month. Going to visit as much as I can before it is gone...and hope Joe and Ted reopen at a new location.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Joe and Ted have done an excellent job so yes, please do come in. It's a shame when we loose an important part of the community like this. But yes, increasing online presence and outside of that...well Jason said the other day that when one door closes, another opens.

    Who knows, honestly.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. cacooper

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    Greetings all,

    I visited Grant's several years ago during a trip to SF. Interesting shop with a long history. At the time of my visit, the SF city government had just passed anti-smoking legislation closing down several cigar bars in the area. The staff were justifiably concerned that the same fate would befall them in time.

    Learning this, I was absolutely astounded that a tobacco shop could still be in business in that city in this day and age, given it's vitriolic anti-smoking policies.

    Grant's closing is sad news indeed, but pretty much a sign of the times I'm afraid. Especially in an intolerant city such as San Francisco. During our stay in the city, I always felt very uncomfortable smoking anywhere, feeling like I was being watched by unapproving eyes.

    I know their closure is due to their lease, but landlords can decide which businesses to allow in their buildings and which they won't. Believe me, I feel their pain. I leased a space for 10 years, and during negotitions, it was clear that the landlord really didn't want my business in his space any longer. Our lack of striking a deal resulted in me closing my shop after a decade in business.

    Most, if not all, successful retail tobacconists today own their building. McCranie's, Iwan Reis, Edward's in Englewood, CO, Stag Tobacconist in Co Springs, etc. It's the only way to control overhead and profitability. Leasing a space, without ownership, allows someone else to ultimately control the future of your business. Such is what happened to Grant's.

    I wish them well.

    CACooper

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. fnord

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    I just signed up for their newsletter and offered to become a mail order customer and I don't give a rip about pricing right now. It riles me to see somebody squeezed in this fashion.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. sjpipesmoker

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    I usually visit my favorite city about once a month and every other visit I always make a stop a Grants. It's a place that I enjoyed a lot, even thought I was only in there for 10 minutes buying tobacco, it felt like I had long time friends. I will miss going to Grants and hopefully they find another place to grow.

    If any B&M needs support, Grants does... know there not a sponsor and I might get knocked for saying this, But if anyone wants some great quality hand blended tobacco, call them up and place a order.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. admin

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    Greg Pease called me about it last night and we were trying to get the news up today, but you beat us to it. It's really sad news.

    Check Out Our - Pipes Podcast
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    lestrout

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    Grant's is a must-do stop for me several times a year when I'm in the Bay Area. Several of their venerable hand-blended tobaccos reside in my Top100 Cellar. Sitting inside their picture window area, puffing, chatting and people-watching was always a treat. I hope they find an alternate location.

    hp
    les

    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. rickpal14

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    Damn!! I was there in June for a conference and stopped in to Grant's every night for a couple of bowls!!!! I just added some of their baccy to the box pass also...

    Hope they can find another location but that was a prime spot!!

    Proud Member of the BlackBlood Society...........
    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. clanobucklin

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    Okay. While I am somewhat saddened that a landmark institution is passing I think I will give a moment of silence to honor its passing.

    Silence.

    Okay that's enough of that.

    Now let me you tell you of my experience of "Grant's."

    Back in 1988 I had just moved to the foggy city of SF with my girlfriend. It was cold, unfriendly and damn doesn't the sun ever come out?

    I was a newbie pipe smoker and I loved pipes and tobacco. I wanted more tobacco and more PIPES!!!

    One colllldddd fogggy day I stumbled into "Grant's" and was ecstatic to see pipes and a few tins of tobacco. There was humidor for "Cigars"! and lots of chatchcas (read nicknacks). Seeing a man behind the counter who assumed to be a brother of the leaf and a friendly sales staff member I timidly pointed out a pipe that caught my fancy. He handed over a nice bent calabash in a rustic finish. I asked how much? He replied in a clipped, Germanic voice that it was priced at $300 dollars. I audibly gasped as I had just started collecting pipes and the most I had ever paid was $50 for a nice Savinelli.

    Why so much? I queried.

    It's a Becker!!! he replied rudely snatching the pipe out of my trembling paw and returning it with some reverence to the case.

    Well. I had no idea who Becker was. Nor did I know who this Teutonic Clerk was...but I did know - that I wanted to put my boot up both their asses!!! For - A. For Mr. Becker - for creating a pipe at a price tag of over $300 bucks (this was 1988 for christsakes! and wasn't it just a pipe?)and B. For Mr. Grant of "Grant's" for employing one of the most unfriendly, rude sales staff employees I have ever encountered.

    I left "Grant's" - never to return - facing the cold, foggy and lonely streets again. It was cold my friends and wet - and my little $50 Savinelli pipe seemed somehow diminished - But any place was better even if it was cold, wet and unknown - than having some rude clerk dress me down for a pipe. Becker indeed!

    Thank God - I discovered Marty Pulvers and Sherlock's Haven a few weeks later as I am still smoking a pipe to this day.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. igloo

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    Pulvers is long gone and now Grants . When I still lived on the west coast we always made time to stop in and grab a cigar or two to enjoy with the Forth of July festivities . I will lament thier passing .

    “There was an awful suspicion in my mind that I'd finally gone over the hump, and the worst thing about it was that I didn't feel tragic at all, but only weary, and sort of comfortably detached.”
    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. photoman13

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    Is there any way they can find another location? That is sad news.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. fnord

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    Almost twenty five years is a long time to carry a grudge but I do respect the animosity you still hold, Clanobucklin. Somebody told me once that a happy customer usually tells three friends while an unhappy customer shares with over ten. And I'll bet you haven't held this incident close to your vest for a quarter of a century, have you?

    Obviously, the clerk was an asshole. (Lawrence, is it okay to call somebody an asshole? Provided they aren't posting members of the forum?) I cannot abide rudeness in a man and I've met several rude clerks in high end stores selling liquor, tobacco, clothing, automobiles, etc.

    On the other hand, I'm a firm proponent of the free market economy. If a customer wants to pay large sums of hard earned simoleans for a luxury pipe then, by God, knock yourself out. (The market will bear what the market will bear.) However, Wolfgang Becker's pipes have that reputation. I've only seen pictures of his burners - they're beautiful, maybe even works of art but they're very very expensive and I can promise you that I'll never own one. But, good for those who can.

    As to Grant's, well that could be another story. The new owners might not have been around in 1988 and maybe - just maybe - the clerk who insulted you wasn't the legend he thought he should become and died a lonely, broken down old man.

    These days, when something goes south, I make a full court press on the manager and let him or her know why I feel wronged. If I don't say something, who will? Otherwise, I end up being that guy poisoning their well to ten people who'll hear me out. If the manager chooses to ignore me then the business deserves to fail. That's that.

    Clanobucklin, I defended Grant's because their collective nuts are in a vise. If the landlord can make more money from a better heeled renter then Grant's needs to take a hike. But my own bias kicks in at that point. Being a pipe smoker, and a student of history, I want to see Grant's adapt, roll with punches, stick a middle finger in the air to a liberal blue state, do that Phoenix thingy and come back stronger than before.

    I'm not the same person I was 25 years ago, thank God. I was brash, didn't give a rip and could've cared less what you thought. Marriage and kiddos have shown me some of the gray wedged in between the black and white and that has given me more peace than I probably deserve.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. sjpipesmoker

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    Photoman- with rents being super high in SF, they will have to find a really cheap place in a not so good area. The place where their at now is not much bigger than a big walk in closet, it's a small cozy place.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. numbersix

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    I hope they go online in a big way. They can operate out of a basement and still make more money. The key is finding a good, honest web developer and investing in a well-made website that they can manage themselves.

    Creating and running a topnotch website costs money - but not as much as over priced rent (and in the no-so-long run, they can get way more customers.)

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Joe and Ted did NOT own the space back in 1988.

    As stated on BOTL, trying to find a space in teh span of a month while managing the chaos at the store is a PITA. Doable I admit, but One of the owners is out of town on needed family leave and the other, well he's the one with his nuts in the vice.

    FYI Kevin, when Jason talked to Greg Pease, he was all star struck

    S

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. irishflake

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    "Mount quickly and ride! There is a miasma over this village!"
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Awesome. Awesome to the max!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. photoman13

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    Couldn't they go right outside the city. If they have a loyal following I wouldn't think it would matter that much. Although I don't know the store or the area as I live in humble Tennessee.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Well it's not even so much a matter of finding an appropriate smoking venue per se, it's just finding a space. But now that you mention it, the red tape involved in SF over tobacconists and smoking is pretty ridiculous. I hear rumors that a shop is supposed to open in Oakland, heard that rumor for almost two years now.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. photoman13

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    That sucks how far is Oakland for you?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. sjpipesmoker

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    Hopefully they find a place soon... I'm going to grants next tuesday to pick up some blends!

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Photoman13 I live in Oakland, lake Merritt area, so I'm like ten minutes away from SF.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. cigrmaster

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    Coming from a landlords point of view, I don't know how they could not comes to terms in the 6 years they have been going month to month. It sounds like the landlord was trying to jack up Grants big time and they couldn't afford the new rent. So the landlord kept them on a T.A W( tenant at will) until they found someone to pay a much higher price. Grants should have had long ago found a new space and moved, especially during the time when commercial rents bottomed out in 2009. They should have realized the landlord was not dealing in good faith and had no intention of signing them long term. Now they are in a bind and rents have increased dramatically since 09. Not the soundest of business plans.

    Harris
    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. kris

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    Wait. cigrmaster, did you just admit to being Darth Vader???

    Posted 2 years ago #
  32. photoman13

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    Saschaillyvich, Oakland would be great for you.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    sfduke

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    For those planning to stop by the shop before the official close, it appears the shop is already closed. Stopped by today and all the windows were covered and shop closed.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    We'll be open tomorrow. Spent the last few days at the shop re-organizing things to make the transition easier. What I can tell you is that big things are in the works and Joe, one of the owners assures me it's going to be awesome. Sign up at the website, grantspipeshop.com to be added to the newsletter and that'll keep you guys updated. Tell Jason I sent you. And wish him a happy belated

    Please DO come in as we wind down the final days at the market street location!

    Sascha

    Posted 2 years ago #
  35. rickpal14

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    Sascha

    Being as I am on the right coast I won't be able to stop in before Grant's closes shop.... However I just joined the email list so I can be kept up to date! I will be in SF before the end of the year and hope to have a new location to visit!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  36. lordnoble

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    Can I come in your suites, Rick?

    -Jason

    The preceding statement is not to be construed as fact, but merely conjecture.

    Proud member of the BlackBlood Society
    Posted 2 years ago #
  37. rickpal14

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    Glad to have ya Jason!!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    I also signed up for Emails.

    I love how they actually list the specific oriental tobaccos in their THREE Balkan house blends and that Roanoke mixture sounds damn delicious.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  39. brewshooter

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    I'll be in the city tomorrow morning for work related business. I'll stop by the store, I'm sure I can find a couple of items that I "need" while I'm there. There was a Stanwell Poker in there on my last few visits that I quite liked...

    Anyway, hope things work out. I tend to frequent Grant's because I have occasional business in San Francisco. Otherwise, it will have to be Mission Pipe Shop out in Pleasanton for me, Telford's is just too far!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  40. winterland

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    Good luck to them.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  41. sjpipesmoker

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    Funny, I've signed up for the newsletter a few times going back to around 2007-2008 and I have yet to receive a email from Grants??? I'll sign up again.

    I was originally planning on going today (Tuesday) but I don't get paid until tomorrow (Wed) I hope they'll be open, I'll give them a call and find out or if Sascha knows??

    Edit- Just signed up again for the newsletter, Also I "friend" requested Grants a while back on facebook and they haven't accepted, I would think that they need to up their social media since the B&M is closing.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  42. foggymountain

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    Sorry to hear it. I worked at a tobacconist as a teenager, and love those places. We have almost none of them left in NYC, so we have to order online. But pipeshops were a great place to hang out and smoke, and I miss them. There used to be one in Yonkers, NY, called Vicar Pipe Shop. The owner was a machinist who did his own repairs. It was a home away from home for a few of us.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  43. cigrmaster

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    kris, don't understand your meaning. I am a landlord for commercial tenants, I am not Grants landlord. If being a landlord makes me Darth Vader then yes I guess I am.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    I haven't talked to anyone today, I'm back to being a writer/editor again (yay haha!) but we're supposed to be open until the 30th.

    We've talked about their social media presence. All I know is things are in the works.

    S

    Posted 2 years ago #
  45. brewshooter

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    Just went by there today, bought a tin each of Blue Mountain, Full Virginia Flake and a 100g tin of Black Mallory. Also picked up a RazoRock shaving soap and a bottle of Proraso splash. They plan on being open until the end of the month and were hopeful that things were going to work out. Sounds like they have several irons currently in the fire. So, that's a good sign.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  46. rigmedic1

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    With a following such as this, Grant's has quite an incentive to keep their legacy alive. I think I will have to send some of my allowance their way as well.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    sfduke

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    Glad to hear the shop is back open.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    As am I. It was a little different though, going in right? Yes, irons in the fire

    Posted 2 years ago #
  49. numbersix

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    kris, don't understand your meaning. I am a landlord for commercial tenants, I am not Grants landlord. If being a landlord makes me Darth Vader then yes I guess I am.

    + 1 @cigrmaster

    I have a feeling your assessment is correct. When you're in a month to month situation, it's not good and they should have expected it. But you never know, they might have had their reasons - I hope it works out for them.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  50. kris

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    Wait. I was kidding...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  51. cigrmaster

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    That's cool Kris, I just didn't understand is all.

    6, before I bought my plaza I was a tenant and could never imagine being on a month to month. I could never have lived with the fact that they could kick me out at anytime. I invested way too much money to ever risk something like that. I bought my plaza because my landlord was such a shit. I have never heard of an established business with a rich history such as theirs doing business like that. I would love to hear the inside scoop on this one. lol

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    I've been into pipes and cigars a long time and it still amazes me how many great B&Ms decided it was a good idea to "get a website."

    They know a lot about their products, many are good businessmen/women, but since they know little about "the web," they hire someone to create a "web presence" for their shop. Once the often one page website with few if any links is "done," it remains literally forgotten -- too often for many years.

    It's sad seeing this since investment in a real web presence is proven to reap substantial rewards as we see every day when we visit and get Emails from pipe and tobacco shops that are doing so well by doing it right.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  53. photoman13

    photoman13

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    Cigrmaster what kind of business are you in? You don't have to answer if that's too personal.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  54. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    photoman, I own a commercial real estate plaza in Rhode Island. I used to own a pool hall for 20 years in the same plaza but closed it 2 years ago. I rent out the space the pool hall was in. No one plays anymore. It was great for about 18.5 years but when the economy went south it did as well.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  55. photoman13

    photoman13

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    That's interesting. You live in florida though right?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  56. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Yes in Sarasota about an hour south of Tampa. I have had a manager running my businesses since 1996, he is like a brother to me and I trust him implicitly. If it wasn't for him, I could have never moved to Florida which had always been a dream of mine. I left in 2003 and he was running the pool hall and the plaza, now he only runs the plaza.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  57. photoman13

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    That is pretty cool. Glad you are living the way you want to. My aunt lives close to there I believe but I have never been there. I love the Destin area in Florida. Absolutely gorgeous minus all the rednecks.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  58. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    I am very blessed that is for sure. Hard work and a bit of luck have paid off for me. If you ever come visit your aunt be sure to give me a shout.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  59. photoman13

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    I will thanks.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  60. ravkesef

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    I'm signed up on their e-mail, of course. I phoned a few times this week and nobody answers the phone. Rats!

    Eric
    Posted 2 years ago #
  61. lazydog

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    Well, good luck to any small business in the B&M mode.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    sfduke

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    Grant's last day was Sat 9/29. Hope we will have some good news soon on where and when the new location will be open.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  63. goalee1

    goalee1

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    I actually did get a chance to stop in before they closed. It was really sad/strange to see the walk in so empty with only maybe 10-12 boxes total. Few pipes on the wall and only a handful of tins. I did talk to the person there (forgot his name but he was a member over at BOTL) and he said there were 3 locations they were looking at. Its sad because regardless where they move, the feel of the old shop will be gone. Yes things will be new and where ever they decide on, people will come but its always sad when a shop moves from an original location thats been there for many decades. My shop in DC moved about a year ago and they are celebrating their 125th year in business so they were at the old location for quite some time. yes the new shop is fantastic and they did move some of the old fixtures but the new walls don't talk yet G1

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    saschaillyvich

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    Well we've been in THAT spot since 1963. Where the quiznos used to be, that I think wasa the original market street spot. No news so far.

    But patiently waiting.

    Posted 2 years ago #

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