Owner of The Pipe Shop & Little Havana in Edinburgh, Scotland
Since 1971 Alan has sold and smoked tobacco products, first from his shop on Montrose Terrace in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh and then from his Father-in-law’s (Jimmy Boyle) shop on Leith walk after purchasing it with his wife Liz. Since the early 1960’s Liz had been helping her father on the same premises enabling her to become well versed in the world of tobacco retail.
The Myerthalls have been long time members of the A.I.T.S, becoming a Specialist Tobacconist circa 1984 after purchasing a second property on Leith Walk. This was necessary to keep up with their ever expanding pipe, tobacco and cigar selection. They second property would bear The Pipe Shop name whilst the original shop would be christened Little Havana.
The Cigar Boom of the 1990’s seemed to promise a prosperous future for tobacconists until the contraband cigarettes and tobacco epidemic saw the closure of many tobacconists nationwide. Alan had to endure and adapt, vowing to do what was necessary to keep the Tobacco Store he loved so dearly open. In 1998 Alan was taken to Cuba through Hunters & Frankau as a guest of Habanos for the commercial release of the Trinidad cigar. Up until then this elusive cigar had only been available as a gift for foreign diplomats. He would also go on to visit the The Villiger Factory in Germany and at the evening dinner had the honour of sitting beside Heinrich Villiger.
In following years Alan would go on to attend the Scottish parliament with other Scottish Tobacco traders under the banner of the Tobacco Alliance. Together they fought against the 2006 Smoking Ban which came into effect in Scotland a year before England. Although unsuccessful in Scotland, this gave other Specialist Tobacconists in the UK more time to put their case forward for more reasonable smoking laws. The following year Alan would go on to win the 2007 Peterson Retailer of the Year Award as recognition for his continued outstanding sales.
Known locally as the “Baccy” or “Cigar” man, Alan believed in inclusivity. His main intention was always catering to the working-class men and women quality tobacco at affordable prices. That being said high-end customers were never forgotten. The extensive range of Cuban and New-World Cigars that lined the walk in humidor would see customers travel from all over to revisit the charms of The Pipe Shop and knowledge that Alan provided. What you see is what you get with Alan. After a life dedicated to the tobacco trade, representation for the rights of smokers and advocating for the freedom of choice it is my belief that Alan and his wife Liz have been pivotal to the continuation of traditional tobacco trade not only in Scotland but in the United Kingdom.