Opened on December 5, 1980, Mr. Bill’s Pipe & Tobacco Co. specializes in Premium Cigars, with large Walk-In Humidors in all our Stores, Cigar Accessories, Traditional Pipes and Tobaccos, Water Pipes, Glass and Metal Hand Pipes, Vaporizers, Lighters, a wide variety of Smoking Accessories and Roll-your-Own Items, Detoxification Products and Unique Gifts!
The founder, James Russell, was working in sales at a local radio station and that’s where Mr. Bill’s got its start. One of Russell’s clients, who had a store called The Gift Boutique, approached him about creating a radio commercial to help boost business. The first thing Russell suggested was changing the name of the shop to something more memorable. The guy’s name was Bill and at the time, there was a popular character called Mr. Bill on Saturday Night Live. Mr. Bill’s seemed like a catchy solution that would attract customers’ attention but the guy never went with it and a few months later, he was out of business.
Russell’s client approached him about taking over the lease that was remaining. “I was doing well in Radio”, James says, “but I always wanted to be on the other side because the people I was selling to and knew what they were doing, were all making money!”
Las Vegas was a boom town at the time, ripe for the picking. When James thought about what kind of business he could turn into gold, he thought of his dad, who was an avid cigar smoker. The only tobacco shop around was The Tinder Box, and Russell decided there was a void in the market.
“Las Vegas had three or four smoke shops and I thought that there should be a mix of something that was more mainstream and yet still hip enough to draw both crowds,” he says. “I remember going into the local smoke shops and experiencing poor service and a lack of product knowledge on the part of the staff in these stores. I decided it could be done in a more refined way”.
The first Mr. Bill’s Pipe & Tobacco Co. (yes, James went with his own advice) was located at Boulder Highway and Desert Inn (near Sam’s Town casino); at the time, it was a good area and the rent was only a couple of hundred a month. James installed a walk-in climate-controlled humidor and with his dad’s insight, stocked it with a selection of great cigars. Also available were premium cigarettes, tobacco and tobacco pipes, water pipes and band T-shirts and posters. James also hooked up with local promoters to make the shop the ticket outlet for most of the major concerts that came to town. It was a successful mix and today, there are three locations.
Not that our history has always been easy. At the end of the ’90s, Mr. Bill’s had six stores and then the economy took a nosedive! We closed our three least profitable locations. Even with Las Vegas leading the nation in the last number of years in foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment, and the influx of foreign owned competition, Mr. Bill’s has maintained and grown our customer base. Ask any cab driver or hotel concierge in Las Vegas about where to get smoking accessories and they will most likely direct you to Mr. Bill’s!! Not only does Mr. Bill’s have a strong local following, tourists from all over the world shop at our stores while they are here and then go home and order online!
Customer service is what makes us different from all the other smoke shops in Las Vegas and on the web. Our “Ten Commandments of Customer Service” is posted in all our stores and sets up apart from the competition. If you want something we don’t carry, we do whatever it takes to find it, and our online customers are often shocked at how quickly they receive their order.
Mr. Bill’s has been named “Best of Las Vegas – Best Tobacco Store” 11 times by the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Mr. Bill’s believes in giving back to the community that has helped us become the success we are today. Some of our charitable partners include the Las Vegas branch of the Speedway Children’s Charities, Best Friends of Utah, the ASPCA and Heaven Can Wait. And for years, Mr. Bill’s has donated cigars for the annual graduation ceremony for fighter pilots at nearby Nellis Air Force Base. As well, we have sent cigars to our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, one group of fighter pilots flew a bombing mission in Russell’s honor, sending him an American Flag they flew during the run and a letter, both of which are now on display at our corporate offices.
Mr. Bill’s reputation is one of quality products and excellent customer service as well as knowledgeable sales staff. Whether it is a cigar or pipe tobacco you have a question about or need an education in Vaporization, our staff can guide you to the right decision. It’s a destination location run by adults for adults dedicated to creating an extraordinary customer experience.
Mr. Bill’s Pipe & Tobacco Co. continues to cater to customers from 21 to 81 and remains, after all these years, the place everyone knows to go to for tobacco, smoking accessories and great, friendly customer service!