The Gentleman’s Shop

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You can’t say window displays are not important in drawing customers.  Leavitt & Peirce, located prominently at Harvard Square,  has the feel of a place that’s either been around a while or one that is particularly well positioned to draw in tourists with an “old Harvard” allure.

  

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It’s only been there since 1885, when the building was constructed as a dormitory for its upper floors with retailers at the street.  For many, many years, this was a pipe, cigar, and tobacco store.  It still is, but… while there is an air of fresh tobacco, it seems likely that Massachusetts’ ban on workplace smoking back in 2004 ended a very long era in this company’s history, if not their identity.  I’m not a smoker, and, personally, I benefit from that law.  But I’d rather businesses choose their own policies, and I’ll choose where I spend my money accordingly.  Still, I can’t help snickering that there remains a tobacco shop at the doorstep of modern liberalism, which will one day, no doubt, demand it’s end for the greater good.  Note: you can click on any picture for a larger view.

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I have no idea whether these are good, bad, rare, common, unusually packaged or under/over priced selections of tobacco.  I just remember that as a kid,when my dad smoked pipe tobacco, I liked the smell.  I also noted a paced enjoyment to it, as well as diligent cleaning of his pipe.  And far more recently, my few business excursions to tobacco warehouses and cigarette plants remain pretty heady places to “take in,” both for the aroma and the memories.

Leavitt & Peirce

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I almost missed the door handle…

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This little display is obviously dated, though not nearly as much as the framed photos of past Harvard football teams that are placed around the store’s upper reaches.  Still, it remains standing as politest possible middle finger.

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For the times, they are a’changing.  Hookahs.  Maybe the school has a secret society of advocates.

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It’s not all about tobacco, though.  Shaving sundries, for one, has apparently been a fixture for the store as well.

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That’s not enough, though, to sustain a specialty store given online purchasing options and encroaching mass retailers.  As a result, they have further expanded to things more likely to appeal to a  male clientele like cufflinks and pocket watches.

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Fountain pens and desk or shelf ornaments as well.

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They’ve also added a variety of games, including Mancala and Parchesi, the latter of which I played as a kid.

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They also offer a variety of chess sets, poker chips/cases, chinese checkers and playing cards, the last of which is perfect for a “I feel like I ought to buy something (that isn’t heavy or awkward to carry around and fits in my suitcase)” purchase.  The store also has a lofted area which was formerly  a smoking area.  Now, it’s offered as a chess parlor.  During the visit, there was one guy sitting there with his laptop, who looked bored rather than engaged in competing against his computer.  In any case, it’s obvious that the store is nowhere close to its bygone status as a center of social activity for Harvard students.  But, they keep up appearances well. 

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And, that’s the end of my in-focus photos.  Sadly, none actually show the really cool floors, ceiling lights, etc.  But, there’s a pretty good article on the store’s history that has just that.  Leavitt & Peirce (e before i?  yes!) is really just that kind of store that I hope to find that isn’t everywhere else, like, say, nearby Newbury Comics.

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