Where to start, Chicago was a blur due to the overload of pipes, tobacco, information and friends but I would like to share my experience. Being my first show, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that it was impossible to see everything I wanted to or meet everyone I had the opportunity to be around. The Chicago show was sort of a milestone for my business and my art. When we arrived at the Pheasant run, Rachel and I decided that a charming antiquity was the best way to describe the hotel. Our room was way up in the tower so we rode the old elevator up with a few people I had recognized from some of the popular pipe groups online. Once we decided to go to the smoking tent I started to get excited, I grabbed my pipes for sale and my bag of pipe to smoke and we headed down the tower in the somewhat scary elevator, which I was told was from the 20’s. The hotel was quiet until we got close to the tent.
The first thing we noticed was the low roar of people talking and lighters and matches being struck. Then the smell, we hit a wall of cigar and pipe smoke, one of the few things I did expect. I grabbed us drinks and found a table to get a pipe packed with some Sutliff VA slices. The amount of people in the tent that first day was an incredible sight. It was like a dream seeing all the people I recognized but never met, most of them were customers of mine. I was smoking my “shop pipe” which is apparently very recognizable because that’s how people introduced themselves ”Oh! I’ve seen that pipe, you must be Sean” .After a few hours in the tent it was time for dinner and more drinks, then bed so we could get up early for the tent sale Friday morning.
The tent show was a huge learning experience that first day. The tent seemed to have a cloud cover of smoke inside, so many different tobacco smells, smiling people everywhere and what seemed to be about 200 vendors. It was a very fast few hours until about 3 pm when we decided to call it quits and get some fresh air and some lunch. I took this opportunity to walk around a meet some of the other carvers I looked up to. For new pipe carvers I can not stress enough how important pipe shows are, being able to show your work off and to have it critiqued by high end carvers is priceless. Asking lots of questions and honestly listening to the advice being given, it is one of the smartest things you can do for your first pipe show. But most of all listen to your customers, the market will tell you where your price point should be.
The next day at the main event, its was an incredible experience. People from all around the world came to the Chicago show spend money and share time with friends and fellow pipe smokers. I met people I would consider to be legendary in our industry and I spent hours talking to carvers from other countries that I could barely understand, but because of pipes we were able to communicate. I felt so blessed that my table was flooded with customers and people stopping by to say hi or take a picture with me. It was an overwhelming experience to say the least. Part of me wants to go to a show just as a spectator and take it all in, maybe next year.
Before this gets any longer, I would like to thank everyone who supported my business at the pipe show and who continue to do so today. It has been a dream of mine to become a pipe carver and all of you are what makes it possible. If you have any questions about the Chicago pipe show or have an idea for the next blog/newsletter please Email me at ReumPipes@gmail.com