Pipe math: Bringing perspective to the artisan pipe market : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Pipe math: Bringing perspective to the artisan pipe market

by Scott Klein

Of all the personality types I encounter shopping at pipe shows, one variety that sticks out conspicuously is the folks doing their pipe math. You see it at every show: A person will pick up a pipe and go immediately for the price tag. Granted, some are really just unaware of the prices and would like to see what you are asking for your work. And there are those specifically shopping for the cheapest pipes they can find in a particular finish and style. But then there is the group whose cogs are turning the most furiously— those doing pipe math in their heads. The simplest equation goes something like this: “Oh, wow! This pipe is $1,000! All these pipes are around $1,000! And you make 100 pipes a year, that’s $100K a year. Sounds like something I should do!”

Newcomers should be aware that there is a bit more to it than that.


We all choose our paths, and I could not be happier with my choices. I am reminded 120 times a year that I made the right choice. I still get a sense of pride and satisfaction every time I finish a pipe. However, I do go into this with my eyes open and the understanding that I am making financial sacrifices to be here.

There’s a Waffle House down the street from my Nashville, Tennessee, home with a permanently hung poster that reads: Waffle House store manager—starting pay $45,500. If anyone questions my resolve, I remind them that I can make more as a breakfast house manager, and likely get there quicker. I choose to make pipes because of the people, the relationships I have formed—not because of the money. So when you see a pipemaker at a show and you buy him or her a drink, don’t think it goes unappreciated. It is definitely appreciated.

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Category: Spring 2018

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