A legend has passed away

- and this time not a pipemaker...

On Monday night, our good friend of the shop, John Thulau, passed away.

Ironically, he left us on International Pipe Smoking Day (20th of February). We are all very saddened by this.
John was many things. He was a customer, he was a friend, and he was 'the star' in our shop.

Although he by no means was wealthy, he was an expert in shopping for second-hand clothes and loved high-profile brands. So, basically, he looked like a million dollars.
He was flamboyant and colorful.

I will never forget one day in the old shop when he came down the stairs and sang “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” from West Side Story, wearing some kind of cowboy outfit because he was going to see the premiere of the Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained.

I still laugh when I think back to that day.

Did I mention that Mr. Thulau was a pipe smoker?
He had a pipe in his mouth constantly. He smoked everything, and if we had some dry leftover tobacco from fragrance samples, he gladly took it.

He had a jar at home where he mixed all these leftovers and moistened it up.

Sometimes it went well, and other times I had to ban him from smoking within 500 meters of the shop.

He just smiled at me.

When he was in the shop, he preferred to sit in the corner and watch our work.
Often, he had a hat on and looked majestic with his Dunhill Calabash with its shiny silver ring. Lots of people asked if they could take a picture with him, and he always said yes. Thousands must have a picture with themselves and Mr. Thulau.

Actually, his behaviour created comments where people write “I visited The Danish Pipe Shop, and it was so cool. The owner sits in the corner, smokes, and watches that everything goes perfectly”. I, as the owner, thought this was so funny that we decided to give him a title: Head of Security. Mr. Thulau loved this title, and he was always helpful if we were busy watching out for shoplifters.

My story with Mr. Thulau starts in 2011. I had met him before, and we nodded to each other when I visited my father in the shop, but honestly, I did not know him, and my father had a lot of 'hangarounds'. But in the days after my father died in 2011, and I was in the shop, I noted Mr. Thulau was outside looking at the windows. He didn’t come in. The staff said that he used a lot of time in the shop, and he might be in doubt whether I liked it, so I went out and pulled him in next time.

He stayed in the shop every day for 1-2-3 hours.

A legend has passed away - The Danish Pipe Shop

Over the years, we developed a friendship. We talked about football (soccer), music, and naturally pipes. Mr. Thulau loved music, and he was ahead of his time. We found out we shared a love for certain indie music (my wife calls it DING DONG music), so we went to several concerts together.

We have been on road trips together, watched soccer games, visited my parents’ graveyard, he joined us at Christmas lunch, and my wife and I helped him financially at a time when he was almost thrown out of his apartment because he had not paid the rent.
Mr. Thulau had no money and received the lowest pension you can get. At the same time, he was not very good at handling the few he had, so he spent them all as soon as he got them.

As flamboyant and outgoing as he was, he was not an open book about his past. I know he worked as a porcelain painter at Royal Copenhagen. I also know that when he was younger, he traveled for Tvind (Tvind is the informal name of a confederation of private schools, humanitarian organizations, and businesses) and was a handyman at projects in the USA and England. He had an ex-wife and a son, plus two grandchildren. I also know that he was a big fan of Tivoli in Copenhagen. He came there every day and drank tea, but after they banned smoking, even for outside areas, he boycotted Tivoli. He was on a first-name basis with most of the employees at Tivoli, so he was sad that it ended like that.

Mr. Thulau was also an ex-alcoholic. I believe he stayed sober for the last 10 years with one or two fallouts. When he fell back into the bottle, he immediately contacted a center and received treatment. So, he was very aware that he should stay sober, but like all other people, he could have a bad day.

During the COVID-19 period, he came to the shop as normal, and I think that saved his day. Everyone else was 'locked in', but due to the status of our shop, we could remain open, and we still had the online sale to handle. This way, he had us to catch up with and watch us work. And watching was what he mainly did.
Many think he worked there, but, he only did a few things like returning bottles for recycling (he got the money then) and ran a few errands. He loved to watch us and the customers. He loved when we had new deliveries and to see what was in the boxes.

He loved the shop.

The last couple of years, we saw less and less of Mr. Thulau. He was feeling his age, and I know from his son that on Friday, he said he didn’t want to be here anymore, and the night between Sunday and Monday, he left us.

With these words, I hope I have given you a better picture of Mr. Thulau - our friend, customer, Head of Security, may you rest in peace. You will be missed!

“I feel pretty! Oh, so pretty…”

Bonus info:
Mr. Thulau loved Mac Baren Classic Vanilla Flake. Since Mac Baren decided to take it out of the Danish market, we created a similar blend with My Own Blend called Tulle Flake.
Tulle was Mr. Thulau’s nickname in the shop.


This blog was written in February 2023.

Items mentioned in this article

DKK 429,-
Tax free price DKK 343,20

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