A Tale of Two Shows

As Kevin wrote about yesterday, we flew back home from Chicago late Sunday night after attending the Chicagoland Pipe and Tobacciana Show. You might think by the title of this little tome that I’m going to compare that show to another one, but that’s not where I’m going. In fact, it would be impossible to compare Chicago to any of the other shows as it’s a totally unique experience. No, what I’m going to write here is about the Chicago show that you see versus the one that we, as exhibitors, see.

If you’ve attended the show, you know that they start off on Wednesday with a seminar for pipe makers which carries over to Thursday. That evening, there’s a cigar event in the smoking tent, but all of that is just a prelude to what’s to come. On Friday during the day, they have what used to be called the Pre-Show. Anyone who has something to sell can get a half table to hawk their wares. A lot of newer pipe makers who couldn’t afford a table during the show proper will get their free half-table and put their pipes out for sale. Friday night is the Welcome Dinner which is open to everyone. Saturday and Sunday are the regular show days, and on Saturday night is the Cigar Dinner. Of course, the smoking tent is a hub of activity when the show and events are over. That’s the show that the public sees, but the one that Kevin, Eric and I experience is quite different.

We set up meetings well in advance with various vendors and a lot of new products are discussed and deals are struck for closeout and special buys so we can pass the savings along to our customers. This year we were able to make a number of great buys that you’ll be seeing in the weeks and months ahead. We work with our partners on new projects, so there will be some unique items that will be coming your way. I also have been working with other companies on new blends, either by cooperating to develop tobaccos or by acquiring tobaccos that are hard to find. I’ve come across twelve different tobaccos that are either very difficult to find or never made available for production. I’ll be releasing a number of new RO Series blends using these tobaccos, so keep your eyes peeled.

We always have fun at these shows and we get to go to dinner with friends and vendors, but the days can be long. I averaged about three hours of sleep each night while we were there, and I know that Eric and Kevin didn’t get much more than I did, but sometimes things that are discussed in the wee small hours yield the greatest results, so I’ll catch up on sleep now that I’m back home.

We’ll be announcing a number of exciting things over the next month or two that will benefit our customers, and it’s because of the behind-the-scenes work at the show. We may all be a little shagged out, but we can’t wait for next year.


About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.