It's hard to appreciate the Leavitt & Peirce experience without actually stepping into the store. Our hope is to attempt to recreate this experience by way of this website. It really is like "stepping back in time," however trite that may sound. Team photos of Harvard's glorious past, along with hand-painted oars and shriveled-up old footballs adorn the walls (footballs were more rounded back then...before the forward pass). Leavitt & Peirce even posted the day's crew schedule in our front window until e-mail ended that fine tradition (progress!). The store truly has a museum-like feel to it.
And then there's the smell. This can't be recreated without 124 years of evolution, or maybe marriage is a better term. The pipe tobacco aroma is in the wood by now. When people walk in, or rather, are drawn in, they take a deep breath, their shoulders relax, and they take it all in. The store is as much about discovery as it is shopping. One hundred-year-old display cases exhibit items thought long gone; old-fashioned straight razors and shave brushes, classic board games that regain your ability to think rather than fantasize, and gifts that seem perfect for that hard-to-shop-for person. Eventually, they are always drawn to the tobacco bar. If we could only put "smell" into a website, then it could say, "Thanks for looking and smelling!"
Paul J. Macdonald, Owner
Some of our favorite reviews:
The latest line of advance in capitalism/consumerism's assault on western society is "lifestyle" marketing, wherein companies try to convince consumers that buying a particular curated selection of mass-produced products will somehow enrich our individual existences. (Ugh.) But the bleating of these "lifestyle" brands is just so much sound and and fury, signifying nothing. Whereas Leavitt & Peirce, an unassuming Harvard Square stalwart, has been effortlessly embodying "lifestyle" for over a century.
What lifestyle would that be, you ask? L&P is best summarized as "The place where your badass bachelor uncle got all that awesome, intriguing stuff you remember lying around his house when you were a kid": penknives, exotic soaps, giant marbles, pimp canes, six-inch wooden matches, mah jongg sets, and of course cigars + pipes galore. (Or, as another reviewer described it, it's like "stepping into a mystery novel." Hell, I would not be surprised if they have a secret back room full of pearl-handled revolvers, monocles, shrunken heads, and cursed idols.) Merely browsing through L&P is a special experience in itself -- the aromas, the craftsmanship, and even the tactile sensation of the hefty, high-quality items they sell are rare pleasures in today's world of cheap crap. The staff can be a bit tough to catch the attention of, but once hailed, they are inevitably friendly and helpful-- hell, they'll even refill your Zippo for you.
It's a miracle that a business as unique and curious as L&P persists in 21st-century Harvard Square, which with every passing year becomes ever more swamped by the rising tide of chain banks, chain coffee and frozen yogurt stores, chain pharmacies, and nondescript overpriced bar+grilles. I don't know how L&P manages it, but those who value independent, unique local businesses like I do owe it to themselves, and to the last-stand holdouts like L&P, to patronize these special places before they succumb to the cruel economics of nü-Harvard.
May that day be as far away as possible; long live Leavitt & Peirce!
Walk through the door not only to partake in the centuries old tradition of fragrant pipe wreaths and cigar rings, but to actually step back in time. The oldest tobacconist in Boston, their tobacco is still housed in glass apothecary jars; take the time to lift the heavy lids, smell and recognize the notes of cherry and smoke that rise up to greet you.
They not only carry a large selection of top-notch tobacco, but also any accessory needed to accompany it. From silver tampers to chess sets to the sign that alerts customers that they're allowed to take one free cigar box for the "experience" of owning their own, this place is filled with classic New England charm, wonderful tobacco and an unparalleled atmosphere.