I have lived in the Vancouver, British Columbia Region of Canada for over 25 years and early on I used to travel down to the Fairhaven Smoke Shop in Bellingham’s Fairhaven District. The old owner used to be a Viet Nam War Veteran who I enjoyed visiting with and jawing while we smoked a pipe. His shop was crammed to the roof with pipes and tobacco. It was the real deal in terms of old pipe shops. I still remember the first time I walked in the door. The shop is not very big as can be seen in the photos below but it is a pleasure to visit. In those days you could still smoke in shop so the owner would be sitting in a corner near the window at the front puffing away on a pipe with a fog of blue smoke around his head. The Fairhaven Smoke Shop has been open in Bellingham since 1985 so that is about 29 years now – contrary to the website that says it is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
I don’t remember when the turn over happened but one day I went in and a new face was behind the counter. The old veteran had sold the shop with all its contents to a young man who wanted to make the business grow. Mike took over and over the years the shop has grown. In fact Mike since then Mike has opened a second shop called the Senate Smoke Shop in Bellingham. I wrote about my visit to the shop and did a brief review of it already on the blog. The Fairhaven Shop was the mother ship. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/a-new-smoke-shop-in-bellingham-washington-the-senate-smoke-shop/
I think that the amazing thing to me is the amount of stock and tobaccos that the small shop packs into such a small space. On the back wall behind the counter and in the display case is a large selection of pipes – briars, meerschaums and corn cobs.
There is also a large selection of tobaccos that can be purchased – both bulk house blends and tins and pouches. Mike carries some bulk blends that are readily recognizable – McClellands and Stokkebyes as well as some blends that are house blends of both of his shops. I for one love the open jars that are readily accessible for taking a whiff before purchasing. The tins and pouches are not behind locked doors. The shop really has the feel of an old time pipe and tobacco shop. When you have chosen your blend of tobacco you take the jar to the counter and Mike or his staff weighs out the amount you need and bags and labels it.
The shop also carries a great selection of cigars. These are stored in humidors lining one side of the shop. Fairhaven is the Alaska cruise ship terminal so many of its customers buy cigars to take on the cruise or to celebrate their return. There are old style shop ladders on the sides to access some of the accessories on the shelves around the ceiling of the shop.
Over a series of reproduction Van Gogh’s there are shelves of cigarettes, both typical American brands and specialty and European brands as well. On the bottom shelf there is also a large selection of lighters and even Swan Vesta matches for those of us who love using these old English brand matches to light our pipes.
Their website states that the goal of the shop is to provide the largest selection of premium tobacco products to its customers. I think if you look through the photos in this article you will agree that they have achieved their goals. In speaking with Mike he stated that he is always on the lookout for new blends to bring into the shop and new pipe brands as well. One of the great things about the shop is that they have a fairly large selection of estate pipes in various degrees of repair. There is something for the hobbyist refurbisher of what ever skill level to choose from and restore. There are great options there for even the person considering trying their hand at cleaning up estate pipes. Just ask Mike or one of his sales staff about them. When I was there they climbed the ladder and brought down several boxes of estate pipes. Well worth asking.
It astounds me that in the anti-smoking atmosphere of Washington state that Mike has been able not only to maintain one tobacco shop but to open a second shop in Bellingham’s downtown. If you have never stopped by for a visit I would encourage you to do so. If you have been hankering for a walk down memory lane – memories of old style tobacco shops then visit the Fairhaven Smoke Shop. Say hi to Mike if you do and let him know you read about the shop on rebornpipes!
The hours of operation are Monday – Saturday: 10:00 – 8:00 and Sunday: 11:00 – 7:00. The website gives directions which I have included herein their own words. I love the closing lines of the directions.
“We’re located close to I-5’s Exit 250 (Old Fairhaven Parkway). Travel west on Old Fairhaven Parkway about one mile after the exit. Turn right onto 12th Street. We’re located about two blocks further north on the intersection of 12th & Harris Avenue, look for the large brick building on the southeast corner of the intersection. We’re on the ground floor.
We do not ship tobacco products. It’s illegal in Washington State.
We are a tobacco-only establishment. No herbs, incenses, bath salts, K2, or salvia.”
To contact the shop you can call (360) 647-2379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit their website http://www.fairhavensmokes.com/index.html. The photos for this article are taken from the site.