Fresh Location, Fresh Pipes
10/06/14 by Joshua Burgess
"I pity snails and all that carry their homes on their backs." In recent days, this quip from Tolkien's Frodo Baggins has brought a smile to my face more than once. We here at Smokingpipes.com, along with our sister company Laudisi Distribution Group, have been engaged in the challenging task of moving to a new home, a 30,000 square-foot office space and warehouse to be precise. Over the past few years, Laudisi has experienced a great deal of growth thanks to the support of our long-time customers and the addition of new ones. This growth meant that we needed to keep more inventory on hand, which became particularly challenging in the relatively small warehouse at our former location. Each additional staff member meant that our desk arrangement was reconfigured like a life-sized game of Tetris. In the spring of 2013, we came to the conclusion that we were going to have to find a new office and warehouse. A location was chosen approximately five miles from our old digs.
Next came the daunting task of planning and executing the move itself. Over the course of the summer, several staff members have devoted themselves almost entirely to preparing for the move — overseeing the remodeling of the building where our new office would be housed, mapping out office spaces and work areas, and setting up electrical, internet, and phone service. The marketing department went above and beyond in their quest to make our new space aesthetically pleasing by producing a multi-wall mural of famous pipe smokers. Throughout August, we began to plan for the move itself. Our highest commitment in the midst of the move was that there be no interruption of service to you our customers. Of equal importance was ensuring the safety of our inventory during the move. Pipes and tobacco are fragile things. When we first began to contemplate how exactly we'd manage to get all our stuff to a new location, I jokingly asked Sykes if we'd be using Two Men and a Truck, to which he responded "Two Men and a Lot of Trucks." Where does one hire professional pipe and tobacco movers? Angie's List and the Yellow Pages didn't offer much help.
In the end, we felt that the closest thing to professional pipe and tobacco movers was our own staff. This meant that while part of our staff was engaged in preliminary moving, the remainder would see to it that Monday and Thursday updates would go on as usual, pipes would continue to be merchandized, photographed, and described, and packages would continue to ship daily. The move itself began in earnest two weeks ago, the last week of September. Non-essential office furniture went first, followed by personnel in marketing, merchandizing, and customer service. We actually moved customer service in pairs so that we would never miss a phone call or an e-mail. Last Friday as soon as UPS made their last pickup, our staff began the most challenging work: the packing and moving of roughly 17,000 pipes, 7 tons of pipe tobacco (including 50,000 tins), and some 32,500 accessories of all sorts. Everyone, from Sykes, to our photographers, to our shipping specialists, was on deck for Saturday and Sunday as we began shelving products in the new location.
The move is now complete. Today marks one week that we've been in the new space, and with the exception of a few missing ceiling tiles and one conference room with window treatments straight out of a Vincent Price movie, we're settling in quite nicely. Our shipping manager Dennis Riley tells me that only four tins of tobacco were dented during the move. As impressive as the new space is, what's most remarkable about the past two weeks — the past year when we consider all the planning — is the extraordinary dedication, talent, and diligence of the Smokingpipes.com family. And while my suggestion of learning a few sea shanties to make the process of shelving pipe tobacco pass more quickly never quite caught on, our staff worked thirteen and fourteen hour days with good cheer and, often, with pipes clenched between their teeth.
What does this move mean for you? In the grand scheme of things, not much will change. We'll be keeping our Brick and Mortar store, Low Country Pipe and Cigar, in the same location. Postal and UPS pickup times will remain the same, and there's now plenty of extra warehouse space for all of your favorite blends. What's more, we now have plenty of room to grow, so you can continue to count on the same personal service and wide selection that you've come to expect. And if you happen to be in the Myrtle Beach area, feel free to drop on by.
Photos by the very talented Katie Ranalli.