The walls behind the glass counter of The Briar Shoppe are filled with pipes of varying sizes, shapes and styles. In a glass container to the far right of that wall sits the most important pipe of them all: a meerschaum pipe carved into the likeness of an eagle’s talons clutching a bowl and stained brown after decades of use.
That pipe belonged to the founder of The Briar Shoppe and current owner Bill Scoggins’ grandmother, and out of respect, the pipe is now retired.
According to Scoggins, who owns the store with his sister, Diane Grace, The Briar Shoppe officially opened in 1962 when their grandmother was allowed a small space of counter in a Main Street pharmacy to sell tobacco products to the men who worked downtown.
“Every gentleman of that day smoked a pipe, smoked cigars or enjoyed tobacco in some form or fashion,” Scoggins said. “She was able to convince [the owner] to rent her 3 feet of counter space where she could sell cigars and tobacco. … then it was 6 feet, then it was 9 feet, and then it was 12 feet.”
With the help of family and friends, she eventually took on the pharmacy’s lease when the owner retired and began a legacy of selling tobacco and tobacco products that would span over 50 years and three generations of her family.
Despite being raised in the tobacco business, Scoggins did not begin smoking until he was a 25-year-old Marine and his mom would send him care packages of cigars.
“I was instantaneously more popular because my momma would send consumables and cigars,” Scoggins said. “I don’t smoke them like a lot of these guys here, but I do enjoy them.”
Today, the shop boasts hundreds of cigars from all over the world in a walk-in humidor, not to mention the pipes, flavored pipe tobacco, accessories and cigarettes that are also for sale in the Rice Village store’s smoky interior.
“The average smoker smokes one or two cigars a month for special occasions,” Scoggins said. “There’s a lot of reasons people purchase cigars, and we get to help in that process. We try to help them make all those right decisions.”
The Briar Shoppe
2412 Times Blvd., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.