It isn’t wrong to say it’s unusual that Champaign is home to one of the remaining few dozen true tobacconist shops in the country. In fact, “unusual” is the very word Andrew Crowell, employee of Jon’s Pipe Shop in Downtown Champaign, used to describe the shop. This year, Jon’s Pipe Shop has maintained its title of Best Smoke Shop in Champaign-Urbana.
A customer of the shop since 1991 and a full-time employee since 2012, Crowell witnessed how far the shop’s reputation has spread throughout the world.
“This shop’s got word of mouth that literally reaches from Mumbai to Hong Kong. It’s regarded as one of the finest, full-line tobacconists in North America by a number of pipe makers,” Crowell said.
An impressive selection of pipes and cigars sets the shop apart from its competitors. Jon’s Pipe Shop houses about 250 cigar brands for sale at any given time. The extensive collection has been carefully curated over many years to ensure a broad assortment of cigars and include selections of top shelf quality. The shop even receives recommendations from Chicago tobacconists for people that are looking for something highly specific.
Jon’s Pipe Shop has was founded in Champaign in 1959. Throughout its history, the smoke shop has developed a number of working relationships with pipe carvers, distributors, and tobacco companies. The university has served as a crossroads for the tobacconist by bringing in visitors from all over the world.
Jon’s Pipe Shop offers intricate services that extend beyond what is usually offered at any given smoke shop, the most notable being able to perform pipe restoration; employees at other smoke shops usually do not have the skill sets or the right equipment to provide this technical service.
“We just do what we do,” Crowell put simply. “It’s an amazing resource that, if you weren’t really thinking about, might take it for granted. But if you go to another city this size, or twice or three times this size, you might not have a place like this at all.”