Nestled in the corner of 185 Carlton Street, next to Ambience Hair Studio, and across the street from the Winnipeg Convention Center in the downtown core of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada we find a modest tobacconist called Thomas Hinds.
Entering the moderately sized shop, we are greeted immediately by the tobacconist on duty, Dave. The warm smell of tobacco permeates the room and the walls are covered with pipes and tobacco, humidors and accessories. And nestled in the corner next to the shop Indian is a very large walk in humidor carrying a vast array of cigars from all over the world.
In addition to the greetings by Dave and a sensory greeting by our nose, the diffuse light also greets us warmly and welcomingly, softly illuminating the sundry treasures and adding a warm glow to the room. The hearty Basso laughter added a brightness to the room and brought our attention to the four gentlemen sitting and visiting in the easy chairs.
Dave Morrison, as he would come to introduce himself, is a tall, thin, middle-aged, well-dressed man, who smiled warmly as I approached the counter with a friendly, “how can I help you?” Or, “what can I do for you?” Or something akin to that, you know the type, the kind of man who when you walk into his shop make you feel as though you can trust him with your business.
Introductions aside, Dave invited us to ogle everything and take photographs as we liked, leaving out the four men visiting, for their own privacy.
I passed first to the humidors, all reasonably priced, and then toward the numerous display cases and huge wall rack holding pipes of all shapes and sizes, varying from inexpensive to opulent, and it was then that I noticed that unlike other pipe shops that I’ve been in, none of these pipes were locked down; in cabinets, but unlocked cabinets.
And I thought that it said something about the quality of service at this tobacconist, as well as said something about the quality of customer at Thomas Hinds. In this day and age of over contractualization, where everything is scrutinized for the merest taint of insincerity, and trust is no further than a lawyer on speed dial, it is nice to be in a place where it’s at least feels as though a handshake and an agreement would be all the contract necessary, where gentlemen are as good as their word.
As my wife entered the (unlocked) walk in humidor beside the shop Indian, and my hubby went about the shop taking pictures I engaged Dave about the shelves of bulk tobaccos. When my wife called us into the humidor, I noticed, again, the trust as Dave entered into the humidor with us, leaving the four visiting gentlemen in the shop while we were in the humidor.
Like a young girl in a candy shop, Sable was veritably drooling over the ample selection of reasonably priced, Cuban and non-Cuban cigars all laid out at knee to eye level for easy selection in the wonderfully well-tended, highly cared for humidor, which once again I noticed was not all locked up.
I thought to myself, certainly at Thomas Hinds, the employees don’t stock that level of trust in everyone, but for some reason it didn’t seem unreasonable for them to put trust in four early thirties men, in suits, whose skin would be considered, by some, to be dark. Nor did it seem unreasonable, to me at least, that this level of trust was placed on three strangers, but also I felt it would be analogous to sacrilege to break that trust in any way, and I am certain that Dave could sense that, with the same certainty that I know my wife and my hubby would have felt the same way had they stop to think about it.
We bantered for a few minutes above the expressive qualities of Thomas Hinds cigars, and I resolved to purchase a Maduro and a Colorado Natural from the Thomas Hinds selection for my wife to review, already having had a wonderful experience here.
We exited the humidor and return to the counter where I reengaged him about the bulk tobaccos, where he explained that they get them from McClelland, and usually rename them for their own personal blends, not an unusual practice as I am aware, and gives me for example, their “Admirals blend” which he reads off the bottom of the jar, probably kept for reordering purposes, is McClelland’s Dark Navy Flake, a personal favorite, one that I have not reviewed, and one that I happened to be out of. Suffice to say, I immediately ordered up 25 g (unfortunately, with taxes, tobacco prices in Canada are way out of control) and went to pay for it.
Now, seeing an ideal experience, and not wanting to mar it by overstaying, I asked Dave to ring up our bill, and when he told me the figure I thought that he must have left something out, and told him so. To which he replied, “The cigars are on the house.”
Overall, I would say my trip to Thomas Hinds was among the most pleasurable experiences that I had on this trip, if you ever have an opportunity to be in Winnipeg, be certain to make your way to the gentlemanly shop at 185 Carlson Street for an engagement with one of the classiest boutiques I have ever been in. And when I say gentlemanly, I mean that to mean “of noble bearing” not exclusionary to ladies.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em!