By Don Dodson (The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.)
CHAMPAIGN — A longtime fixture in Champaign’s Campustown plans to move to downtown Champaign this fall.
Jon’s Pipe Shop, which has been at 509 E. Green St. for more than 50 years, plans to relocate Nov. 1 to the Better Image Film Lab building at 44 E. University Ave., C, after that business closes in mid-October.
Patrick Callaghan, who has owned the pipe and tobacco shop since 1978, said two factors were key in his decision to move.
First, control of the building he occupies was transferred a year ago to a Texas-based company that operates apartment communities, and he figures it’s only a matter of time before a development goes up there.
“With all the construction on Green Street, you never know if they might tear it down and build a high-rise,” he said, adding he’s heard no official word of that.
Second, work is about to begin across the street on a hotel/apartment/retail development that will obliterate Lot J, the city-owned parking lot that many of his customers use.
Jon’s Pipe Shop, which has been on campus since 1961, carries 60,000 cigars, 3,000 pipes and more than 350 blends of pipe tobacco, Callaghan said. The store also sells tobacco for those who roll their own cigarettes, as well as snuff.
Callaghan said he was originally going to take only the northern portion of the building at 44 E. University Ave. — on the northwest corner of University and Chestnut Street.
But once Better Image decided to vacate its space, he decided to take the southern portion as well and use that as a smoking lounge. That way, customers can sample his tobaccos in a comfortable space.
At the new location, Jon’s Pipe Shop will have more than twice the space it has now — about 2,000 square feet, up from 700 square feet.
Plus, there’s parking right by the store, and Callaghan figures the new location is still close enough to campus to serve students.
But most of his customers, he said, come from off campus, and it will be easier for them to get parking spaces.
Callaghan said the origins of Jon’s Pipe Shop sprang from the Friedman-Klinge Cigar Co. in St. Louis.
When the Friedmans decided to open retail stores in other communities, they chose the Jon’s Pipe Shop name in honor of their grandson, Jon Globig.
One of the sites they chose was Champaign, where their son-in-law, Gene Globig, had attended the University of Illinois, where he played basketball. Other stores were opened in downtown St. Louis; Clayton, Mo.; Columbia, Mo.; and West Lafayette, Ind., Callaghan said.
However, when Jon Globig grew up, he chose to be a forester in Alaska, rather than go into the tobacco business.
Conversely, Callaghan — who happened to start out studying forestry at the UI — loved the tobacco business.
Callaghan began working at the Champaign store in 1972, while in high school, and his mother, Lorraine Callaghan, was hired as the store’s manager.
Pat Callaghan bought the Champaign store six years later, and his mother continued to work at the store until 2008, when she died at the age of 93.
Pat Callaghan got training in New York to become a tobacconist and did blending of tobacco for all five shops. He also received training in cigars in the Dominican Republic.
Callaghan — who spent 20 years in the Illinois State Police, retiring as a detective — said he handles pipes from all over the world. He said many of his customers are interested in quality smoking products and are “turned off” by commercial cigarettes.
Callaghan said he expects to expand hours at the new location, possibly being open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Hours at the current shop are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Jon’s Pipe Shop has three other staff members, including Champaign City Council member Michael La Due, who has worked at Jon’s for 20 years. Other employees include Jerry Moore, a 10-year veteran, and Andy Crowell, who joined the staff last year.
Callaghan’s brother, Richard — a member of the Illini’s 1963 Rose Bowl team — returned to town this weekend for the team’s reunion. Besides playing football, Richard Callaghan also played baseball and was a wrestler for the UI.