P&C does it again!

Ozark Wizard

Well-known member
Old Ted Award Winner
$10 shoes unfortunately have been banned in my utopia. i am sorry.
Cool, no need to apologize, more cheap shoes for the rest of us. Nothing like the feel of the toil of exploited humanity from Bangladesh to put a spring in my step. Until that first hoof print scuffs and soils the faux leather uppers. Something about wearing white runners while mucking stalls makes me smile.
 

SmokeRings

Well-known member
Patron
I could also write about what I perceive as the uniquely (and unfortunate) American retail experience - what we've all come to accept as normal and necessary here in North America (it's no different in Canada and maybe worst of all right here in Alberta where we've had too much for too long) would be absolutely unacceptable and strange for anyone else in the world.

Buy a pipe from an Italian e-tailer for example. You'll get a confirmation and receipt immediately. You'll get a shipping notice and a tracking number within 24 hours on a weekday. The pipe will show up packaged beautifully, well protected, as though you've bought something of value (you have). It will be gift wrapped. There will be a hand written note from Luca or Pierro or whoever you bought it from. There will most likely be a pack of 100 pipe cleaners, and a coupon or two for your next purchase. Like, it's quite a show. It's important to these guys, they are proud to serve you, they need your purchase to put bread on their table. It's personal.

Can you imagine, as an American, going to buy vegetables, and instead of rooting through 100 mediocre red peppers looking for one that isn't squished or 10 days old, going to the grocer and asking him for a couple, which he would select for you? No, that's weird. Except, that's how it goes everywhere else in the whole world. We're the weird ones. Our gigantic, faceless system.

In "The Tao of Pooh" the author mentions the difference between a Chinese tea-house where people sit for a few hours and talk, and the hamburger stand in America, where the message is basically "Here's your stuff, now gtfo we got more people coming." Culturally a world of difference.
I think there are strong and weak points to both systems and which one is superior really depends upon what is important to you. If having a personal connection to the person or people with whom you do business is a primary point of importance to you, then making purchases from the Chinese tea house model or from an Italian pipe maker is absolutely the route you want to go...if you want your goods to be available for the lowest possible price so your money goes further, and your time is most efficiently used, then the American hamburger model makes the most sense, I have traveled to many places in the world, and the model I personally favor is a combination of the two, there are definitely things I want a personal touch in, like buying clothes that would be worn in formal settings, or buying a car, or a house, but there is also a place for mass produced and ultra affordable goods, there are only 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much we wished that we had more, we aren't going to get them, you have to decide where to invest that time, because you just can't have it all.
 

Codgerindecline

Well-known member
So here's a question for all:

Is the pipe and cigar community better off with or without the P&C/CI group being around?
The posts on threads that come up about P&C are an invaluable insight into character. Amazing to me how so many firm opinions are based on one bad, even terrible, experience that happened years ago, and the need to express that opinion everywhere at every opportunity.

The best example is from a fairly recent thread on another forum. Guy wanted some hard to find limited edition of something or other. He was kind of out of pocket for a day or two, didn’t get a check in the bank, and his card therefore bounced. Emailed customer service, never got a response. Of course by the time he got to it, the HTF was long gone. But he flamed them mercilessly. A page or two later, after much to and fro from the usual suspects, me included, somebody pointed out that he might have gotten his tobacco if he had used a card with room on it. Things kind of died down after that.

But a few months later, the guy using the same screen name shows up on another forum, and flames P&C unprompted by anything I can recall, and proceeds with the flame thrower, but left the part out about paying with a bum card. (Which was never charged). I proceeded to supply that fact and things kind of petered out from there.

The person involved might be a wonderful guy. But would I do a trade with him on a “ we’ll just cross in the mail” basis which is the way I do most deals? Nope.
 

mingc

Well-known member
The posts on threads that come up about P&C are an invaluable insight into character. Amazing to me how so many firm opinions are based on one bad, even terrible, experience that happened years ago, and the need to express that opinion everywhere at every opportunity.

The best example is from a fairly recent thread on another forum. Guy wanted some hard to find limited edition of something or other. He was kind of out of pocket for a day or two, didn’t get a check in the bank, and his card therefore bounced. Emailed customer service, never got a response. Of course by the time he got to it, the HTF was long gone. But he flamed them mercilessly. A page or two later, after much to and fro from the usual suspects, me included, somebody pointed out that he might have gotten his tobacco if he had used a card with room on it. Things kind of died down after that.

But a few months later, the guy using the same screen name shows up on another forum, and flames P&C unprompted by anything I can recall, and proceeds with the flame thrower, but left the part out about paying with a bum card. (Which was never charged). I proceeded to supply that fact and things kind of petered out from there.

The person involved might be a wonderful guy. But would I do a trade with him on a “ we’ll just cross in the mail” basis which is the way I do most deals? Nope.
I think it's eminently unreasonable of you to expect people to behave reasonably. ;)
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
I think there are strong and weak points to both systems and which one is superior really depends upon what is important to you. If having a personal connection to the person or people with whom you do business is a primary point of importance to you, then making purchases from the Chinese tea house model or from an Italian pipe maker is absolutely the route you want to go...if you want your goods to be available for the lowest possible price so your money goes further, and your time is most efficiently used, then the American hamburger model makes the most sense, I have traveled to many places in the world, and the model I personally favor is a combination of the two, there are definitely things I want a personal touch in, like buying clothes that would be worn in formal settings, or buying a car, or a house, but there is also a place for mass produced and ultra affordable goods, there are only 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much we wished that we had more, we aren't going to get them, you have to decide where to invest that time, because you just can't have it all.
Largely I agree with you. The only thing I'll point out is that in this specific case, buying Castellos for example, you save about 100 bucks buying out of Italy from any number of retailers there, over what you pay in the states, because somebody somewhere is pocketing money, and that happens a LOT in the big corporate world. Your walmart tomatoes are the same price as my grocer tomatoes because walmart throws out 9000 pounds a day and my grocer doesn't. As you say, times and places for both models. It's nice when you can order a pizza at 2 in the morning.
 

SmokeRings

Well-known member
Patron
You can always assume that the more hands involved in bringing you something, the higher the cost will be, now whether or not that works in your favor just depends, but nobody opens a business because he doesn't want to get paid, a direct to consumer model is usually a great way to save some cost, but there are always two sides to every story, you'll likely be waiting longer and go through more inconvenience in order to save that money, because there isn't a wide network of continuous distribution available, even for those brands who handle the entire vertical process there are expenses, employees, equipment, insurance and of course our goobermint fees of whatever fancy term they choose to use, and they are going to want something for all that bother, if a person just picks his/her battles, and decides which hills are worth dying on, and which ones are not, they will almost inevitably find life less stressful.
 

Codgerindecline

Well-known member
because somebody somewhere is pocketing money, and that happens a LOT in the big corporate world.
Marco Parenscenzo, who owns Novelli, a pipe shop in Rome, is the US distributor for Castello. The Italian/US price difference is accounted for by his markup. He might wish to be a player in the big corporate world, but so far he hasn’t cracked the Fortune 500.
 

SmokeRings

Well-known member
Patron
Marco Parenscenzo, who owns Novelli, a pipe shop in Rome, is the US distributor for Castello. The Italian/US price difference is accounted for by his markup. He might wish to be a player in the big corporate world, but so far he hasn’t cracked the Fortune 500.
But is the markup higher or lower than what it would cost to purchase an individual pipe, paying for the shipping and any duties assessed by either the Italian or US governments? If he's smart, it costs less to go through a US supplier, if not, he's measuring people's foreheads and doing business based on the idea that most folks are either too stupid, or too lazy to figure it out.
 

Codgerindecline

Well-known member
But is the markup higher or lower than what it would cost to purchase an individual pipe, paying for the shipping and any duties assessed by either the Italian or US governments? If he's smart, it costs less to go through a US supplier, if not, he's measuring people's foreheads and doing business based on the idea that most folks are either too stupid, or too lazy to figure it out.
Some retailers actually pprefer dealing with distributors as opposed to a manufacturer in another country. Radice has eliminated distributors, and shops can order directly from them. But some shops choose not to do so.

Franco Coppo deals directly with shops in Italy, but with a very few exception, Castellos in other countries come through a distributor to the retailer.

There is more than one way to be smart in business of virtually any kind. Radice and Castello both seem to be doing just fine.
 

Chico

Well-known member
Can you imagine, as an American, going to buy vegetables, and instead of rooting through 100 mediocre red peppers looking for one that isn't squished or 10 days old, going to the grocer and asking him for a couple, which he would select for you? No, that's weird. Except, that's how it goes everywhere else in the whole world. We're the weird ones. Our gigantic, faceless system.
Those produce rules vary quite a bit. In Spain they don't like you to touch it and they choose for you, but in Portugal it's fine.

I will just add that the quality of produce here is freakin' unbelievable compared to what you get in most of North America (and yes, that includes Whole Paycheck). Gigantic, beautiful red peppers for example. But also the flavors. Fruits that actually taste like what their appearance would suggest rather than generic fruit flavor. The most amazing raspberries I've had since my dad's berry farm when I was a kid. Lakeland-style citrus that tastes like orange blossoms. Grapes are so grapey they almost taste fake. Snozzberries that taste like snozzberries. And all very cheap in comparison. Of course there are trade-offs, like stuff you just can't get, or imported foods being more expensive than you'd expect.