Blog by Steve Laug
Our four daughters gifted my wife Irene and I a trip to Palm Springs, California, US for our fortieth wedding anniversary mid-July. Little did we know that Palm Springs in July is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit – dry and hot. We flew into Palm Springs and stayed in Indio. We managed to arrange our days to do most of our shopping and hunting in the mornings to avoid the heat of the day. It was a great trip and an amazing time of celebration together. One of the days we drove to Palm Desert, a community between Palm Springs and Indio. We went through thrift shops, antique stores and department stores looking for pipes and tobacciana as well as gifts for our kids. As we drove through the main part of town I saw a sign on the left corner that said Palm Desert Tobacco. It was located at 73580 El Paseo in Palm Desert. I noted it and planned to go back a few days later.
When I got back to the condo we were staying at I looked up their website on my iPad. The link is: http://www.palmdeserttobacco.com/our-story.html. I read their history and have summarized it below. I have clipped portions of it here.
The Bruning family have been full service tobacconists selling the finest tobacco products and accessories in Southern California since 1969. Brothers Bert and Jack have operated Palm Desert Tobacco… in the Greater Palm Springs Area since 1983. Bert is a past president of the Tobacconist Association of America as well as a former board member of the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America…Originally, (the) locally owned and operated company was in San Diego, and…moved to Palm Desert in 1983…”Business has blossomed as we continue to seek out the finest in tobacco products and to offer great service to our customers.”
After spending time on their website I was more convince than ever to make sure I visited the shop before returning to Canada.
We did all of our other shopping and looking about and the day came for my visit to the shop. I was excited to see what it was like. We drove down El Paseo and found a parking place down the street from the shop. It was a hot day in Palm Desert – over 120ºF. I stopped outside the shop and took some photos of the exterior. The heat in the air was almost palpable and it was hard to get a focused photo from across the street. I love the looks of tobacco shops and over the years during my travels I have collected photos of the shops. I apologize for the blurriness of the first photo.I crossed the street and took a closer picture of the front and the cigar store Indian standing on the corner. The lettering on the store sign appears to be out of focus but it is not – what you are seeing is the shadow of the letters on the wall behind the sign.Passing through the doors into the air-conditioned interior was like stepping back into time in some ways. The aromas and sight of the old time tobacco shop were immediately present. In the back was a humidor with large variety of top cigar brands that the website says include Davidoff, Arturo Fuente, Opus X, Tatuaje, Illusione, La Flor Dominicana, Aging Room, Casa Magna Domus Magnus Montecristo, Royal Butera Vintage, Padron, Griffin, Ashton, and Diamond Crown. On the left was a relaxing smoking lounge that is available to members as well as those who purchase products that meet the minimum value. It was well set up with couches and chairs and was filled with smokers. On my right as I entered the door there was rack with their bulk pipe tobacco selections and an assortment of various tinned blends. Of course I stopped there to have a look.
Walking into the shop the floor held many display cases with pipes, racks, lighters as well as cigar cutters, lighters and humidors. I took a few photos to give you an idea of the layout and the look of the displays within the shop. Somehow I missed the display case with the estate and new pipes. I was enamored examining the selection so I neglected to take some photos of that part of the shop. There were Dunhills, Comoys, GBDs, Sasienis, Charatans, Barlings, Petersons, Savinellis, Rossis, Amorellis, Vipratis, Mastro de Pajas, Castellos, Ascortis, Radices, Rattrays, Ser Jacopos, Stokkebyes, Bjarnes, Nordings, WO Larsens, Stanwells, Bentleys, Neerups, Chacoms, Butz-Choquins, Tom Eltangs as well as some American made pipes like those by Icarus and Briarworks. You can see why I got lost looking at the huge variety of pipes spilling over the shelves of display cases and on the wall behind the case. I went through some of the estate pipes and looked at GBDs and Comoys shapes that I had not seen before. They were beautifully restored by Bert. Excellent workmanship.I made my way finally to the cash register. I did not want to make Irene wait for me to sit and have a bowl so I settled my account. At the cash out counter there were lots of interesting things as well. There was a rack of pipe obviously belonging to the brothers, pipe cleaners, lighters for pipes and cigars, and pipe and cigar tools. I could have stood looking for hours at the photos of famous customers lining the walls. It was a great shop with the air of an old time tobacco shop. I took a photo of my purchases – they were put in a Palm Desert Tobacco shopping bag and the clerk threw in some wooden matches and a business card. I picked up two issues of Pipes and Tobacco Magazine (I found out later that one of them had an article on the very shop that I was visiting). I bought two bags of pipe cleaners, a tin of Balkan Sobranie and a 100 gram pouch of Crown Achievement.
Since coming home I have read the magazines, used the pipe cleaners and begun to enjoy the pouch of tobacco. I have to say, if you are ever in Palm Desert, the Palm Desert Tobacco Shop is well worth a visit.