I dropped by Edwards the day I turned 18, and they got me started. They are helpful and kind. This, however, is the cool thing. The owner and the two fellas (and one lady) that work there remember nearly every name...including mine. You can come in about any time of day, light up a pipe and enjoy some good conversation with any number of people. Go in at the right time and you'll hear old vets talking about Vietnam and WWII (Yes, there are some older smokers there...still alive! Nobody ever told them the government lies that smoking kills, so they will keep smoking and living until someone fills them in!) Other times about politics, other times sports. It isn't that women aren't allowed here, but I don't know how many women are really anxious to get in anyway.
My wife has gone to Edwards twice without me to buy pipes (one for an anniversary and once for father's day). Each time they were helpful and respectful, though she didn't like the smell of all the smoke. Yet, it's a safe place for men. Jokes that wouldn't pass in mixed company come out a bit more freely. The tobacco is there, but it's as much an excuse as anything. Menfolk don't want to be caught around female safe-houses. The salon, the department store, the stitch and bitch meeting. Yet, for some reason men aren't allowed the same privacy. Edwards goes a long way to restore that. They will put a free bowl of tobacco in your pipe and will tolerate most anyone sitting around and listening to the conversation (I know this because they tolerate me). What more could you ask for out of a tobacco shop?