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Name of Shop: LJ Peretti
Date Visited: 09/15/09
Street Address: 2 1/2 Park Square
Phone Number: 1-800-7676-LJP
Hours of Operation: M-F, 8:30 – 8:00; Sa 8:30 – 7:00
In its Park Square location since 1938! Although, these days, folks don’t now Beantown’s old “squares” so much… so, don’t bother with your tom-tom or Google maps: 2 1/2 Park Square (Peretti’s official address) does not show up on modern tech. Use the following:Located on the corners of Charles (across from the Four Seasons) and Boylston (across from Boston Common). Accessible via the MBTA’s Green Line, between Arlington and Boylston stops.
LONG-time staffers (and, if you’re lucky, you might witness a visit from the mostly retired Robert Peretti himself). These guys know everything BUT, while pleasant, they are pleasant in a Boston kind-of way. To some, the staff may seem even gruff (I like to think of them as “efficient”) as, due to their longevity and iconic status, have to suffer MANY a tourist (often preferring photo ops over stogies…) and have developed a rather no-nonsense manner. But you will witness great affection (Bro-love, not, uh, you know, the mushy stuff!) for their regulars. They are happy to share knowledge, but you’d better quickly establish yourself as either other-than-a-newbie or, if a newbie indeed, at least a committed initiate.
Selection is prodigious – large custom-made humidors keep everything fresh. And their turnover is tremendous, so nothing gets very old. That said: the real star of their business is their pipe tobacco (they are, after all, tobacconists!). They have a super selection (with the exception of a few, uh , “personal grudge” omissions) and, if they don’t have it, they will KNOW it and can GET it.
Prices seem in line with other shops: I paid ~$10 for a Kuba Kuba (including all of the punitive local taxes of something like 20% tobacco tax + 6.25% sales tax). On the other hand, pipe tobacco is a BARGAIN, both in terms of the hobby (generally) and the industry (specifically). Just a few bucks for a 1 oz. helping of any of their plentiful selection (and, of course, complimentary bowls of whatever you might care to try). They are happy to talk about their blends, although requests for “secret ingredients” will be met with little more than a wry smile.
Of particular interest: you will find items in the shop that have been around since the ’70s (and remain at ’70s prices, in some cases; okay, well, the ’80s then…). SUPER high-end lighter selection; LARGE (they claim “largest in Boston”) selection of humis; and, of course, pipes galore. A complete (and then some) line of accessories (“softy bits?”) and a knowledgeable staff to tell you what’s what and what “ain’t all that.”
Lounge: Exceptional (with caveat)
Some observers would likely select “below average,” but the “lounge” (such as it is) must be taken in context. The store has two leather-ish man-chairs and one wooden chair inside, plus two benches outside. EVERY lunch hour, without fail, butts are in those chairs (and other butts are in the chair-side ashtrays). Regulars show up, well, regularly, to shoot the breeze, puff away, talk sports, and just hang. Check out the truly antique-but-functional cigar chopper and electo-lighter (you have to see it to understand; always fun to watch tourists fumble and futz with it). A nouveau “aficionado” might wrinkle his nose, but the understanding will, well, understand. It’s the history, man!
The outdoor bench sometimes has an ashtray, sometimes not (depending on the ignorance that day of the passing crowd, i.e., whether they have filled the holder with their waste, straws, or snotty Kleenex…) but, regardless, there is always company to be had (sometimes an old-timer, sometimes a bum, but always entertaining).
Overall Opinion: Exceptional
I love and, just as important, respect LJ Peretti’s; there is simply nothing else like it anymore. Old school, pure old school (even–or especially–their pipe-tobacco blends). This is not the place for Financial District types or frat-boy pleebs to blow a showy wad (although your dough will be gladly accepted), this is a place that reminds brothers-of-the-leaf guys where their dads–or granddads–used to loiter. Well worth a visit, but even better when visited regularly.