“Boston just sounded like a classy word to Don,” Sally Dean remembered of Boston Stoker’s founding. “It was either that or Argyle or something similar, but driving back to the farm in Ludlow Falls, he’d pass by Boston’s Wine Cellar all of the time. The name just kind of stuck.”
Only a month and a half after deciding to start their pipe and tobacco shop, Don and Sally Dean opened the first Boston Stoker in Englewood, Ohio in 1973, followed shortly by a second shop in Fairborn, Ohio in 1975. Located north of Dayton, the close proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base meant that a large portion of Boston Stoker’s early clientele were quick drop-ins from the officers. Wanting to keep customers in the shop longer, the Deans started offering them free, freshly brewed coffee.
“Dad was originally buying the coffee from a local roaster, pretty uncommon for that time in first wave coffee,” Henry Dean, current Boston Stoker CEO said. “It worked for keeping people in the shop but then more and more people were wanting to buy the coffee to take home too.”
This community of Boston Stoker’s first customers developed many of the relationships that would stay with the company for years to come. Mat Beckler would sit in the shop and hand carving pipes to order for customers. A native of Turkey, Beckler worked in Mershum, a mineral only found in his native country but highly valued by pipe smokers for its bright white color. John Pennick worked for Boston Stoker for over 40 years and began his employment by coming to the shop on his way to work for three days in a row, but never actually making it in to work any of those days.
After a few years of running both Boston Stoker locations, the original local coffee supplier went out of business. Never one to be satisfied with a lesser product, Don Dean began roasting his own coffee in 1975. Without a large industry in place to support it, the original Boston Stoker roaster was a repurposed 10-15 pound peanut roaster.