Whatever happened to the middle ground?
Chet Gottfried writes:
What strikes me odd about the group is that there's one side talking about
pipes costing several hundred dollars and another talking about pipes under
$20. Whatever happened to the middle ground?
Mark Tinsky replies:
I think the middle ground has disappeared. As cheap pipe prices have gradually
gone up there s no decent pipe at $50 or $60 anymore just $30 pipes full
of fills and other manufacturing horrors that now have become the middle
ground. Men are funny shoppers. While women seem to readily adjust there
scales to take into account inflation and other economic factors. Mostly
I think ,generalizing outrageously here, that they love to spend and in
most cases the more the better. If a silk blouse by a certain manufacturer
costs $35 one year they expect that it will cost $38 THE NEXT. There scales
adjust accordingly. I, like most men, who are not avid consumers, don't
figure prices like this. If I broke down and bought a dress shirt 5 years
ago at $11.00 which I considered then an extravagance I'm certainly not
going to pay MORE than that now if I have to buy another. I still hunger
for the days of nickel candy bars. I really haven t bought much candy since.
Why should I have to pay 10x more to get less of a candy bar?
Unfortunately this same logic applies to buying pipes. A person who likes
a certain brand and model remembers what it costs 5 -10 years ago when he
bought it. At this point he may have lost it or broken it beyond repair.
He liked the pipe and wants to replace it exactly. He goes to his local
shop and finds out the price has doubled. He may never have spent more than
$30 on a pipe in his life and he s certainly not going to spend $60 now!
While many pipe manufacturers may have their heads in the ground, they're
not all universally stupid. When all they re $60 Non Pareils are not selling
anymore and generic $30 pipes are still selling strongly they realized in
order to reclaim their former market they were going to have to come up
with a $30 Non Pareil again. So what do you think they did ?
Probably the $60 Non Pareil was a fair value. Maybe it had a couple small
fills, but had decent grain and was well polished rather than lacquered.
Maybe it didn' t have a bowl full of stain. Well the NEW $30 NON PAREIL
will certainly have none of these features; rather it will be a $30 quality
pipe with Non Pareil stamped on it.
I remember when an average GBD was a nice pipe. It had a moderate cost as
well as incorporating a reasonably priced top of the line in the Virgin
and the Unique. Sometime in the 80's the line turned into a piece of crap,
a joke. In some cases there was more putty than briar in them. What happened,
GBD resisted raising their prices and instead lowered there quality as did
most of the other mid range pipes of that era such as Stanwell,Savinelli,Comoy,
and Peterson etc. When they found their customers were not willing to pay
more money to retain the same previous value they had received in their
pipes they lowered their standards.
The middle ground in pipes has disappeared along with good factory jobs.
We are divided between those who purchase expensive high quality pipes and
those who purchase what's left. Either work in the service industry at $5
per hour or be a computer engineer at 50k. It's become a stark choice.
American Smoking Pipe Co.
HC 88 Box 223
Pocono Lake, Pa. 18347