My friends, and when I say my friends, that includes you ya dirty landlubber, I have travelled to the great New City, on the shores of the Appalachian Mountains, where Henry Hudson himself first encountered the … Ok, I live right outside of Manhattan and took the bus in. But my point is that I have found the sole paradise of every wetshaver in the North East of the United States: Pasteur Pharmacy.
Now I cannot truly use the word “sole” because there are actually two of them in New York City. But for the sake of this article, I visited the location at 53 East 34th St. Its a very small unassuming front for what is a cornucopia of traditional shaving products inside.
For those who don’t know, there is no other place that I know of in the entire area in and around New York City. Yes, there is the occasional “Art of Shaving” store, which is great in their own right. But that is one brand. Inside of Pasteur’s seems to be every brand. And every type of product.
I have become so accustomed to purchasing all of my supplies either directly from smaller vendors or from sailing the Amazon. But when I walked into this place, and encountered shelf after shelf after shelf of shaving products, I had to quickly head back to the door and grab a shopping basket. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it all in my hands.
An entire section dedicated to brushes. So many brands, so many styles. 2-band, 3-band, badger, boar. My BAD (brush acquisition disorder) immediately spiked. I took a swig of rum and moved on. I noticed another massive selection of straight razors and safety razors. I took another swig. No real estate was wasted. Between shelves were thin slivers displaying many different brands of razor blades. I loaded up my basket.
And thats when I took a deep breath and moved on to really take in what I noticed first but was so overwhelmed I had to skip it and come back.. The soaps, creams, and aftershaves. Here they were, column after column, shelf after shelf, of these products. So many brands. There were entire areas dedicated to some of the more major brands, notably Truefitt & Hill, Taylor of Old Bond Street, and Geo F. Trumper. They had just about everything these brands sell on their shelves. And it didn’t stop there. Honestly I had a hard time trying to conjure up a name that wasn’t on their shelves.
They even had items that are no longer for sale! For instance, when I had visited a few months ago, they still had Penhaligon’s English Fern soap and Klar Kabinett soap, both of which are no longer in production and highly sought after. And to my amazement, there was no markup on these products. This was brought to my attention by a great great man named Leon.
Leon is a pharmacist who works at this Pasteur location. I have visited Pasteur’s twice now, and both times we had a good long conversation. One of the first things we talked about was how much Leon and the owner really enjoy the fact that they are one of the only (if not the only) brick-n-mortar establishments with this large an array of traditional shaving products. They take pride in their stock, and really appreciate the manufacturers, and especially the customers, who give them business.
They relish it so much that they aren’t interested in it in a “making money” kind of way. So they will never mark up any product that becomes a rarity. They will simply sell it at the standard price, no matter what.
Leon also spent some considerable time asking me my preferences in products, and if there was anything that I don’t see on their shelves that I could recommend. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t think of anything, except to say that there were a good many smaller-level artisan soapmakers out there that are really deserving of attention. Some names that come to mind are Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum, and Mike’s Natural Soaps, and Weber Razors.
And the very last time I visited the store, Leon mentioned to me that he had met another shaving blogger who had offered to give Leon an old-school shave, using products of Leon’s choice. So at that point, Leon asked me to recommend him an aftershave. So I scanned his shelves, and found the brand to recommend, which was quite a simple chore on my part: Captain’s Choice Bay Rum Aftershave. The Captain is a great man, who is very involved in the shaving community, and it was a real honor to recommend his product, which was a newcomer to Pasteur’s shelves.
If you live in or near NYC, or are planning to visit, you simply MUST head on down to either location of Pasteur’s. But of course I highly recommend the Pasteur Pharmacy on 34th Street. And if you do go there, please tell Leon I sent you. He’ll know who I am and will make your visit that much better.
I really am very much looking forward to my next visit to Pasteur Pharmacy. Do yourself a favor and make an effort to check it out. You’ll be very glad you did.
Captain’s Note: I had taken a slew of pictures during my last visit, but somehow they have all been washed out to sea. Of course, the good news is that I now have to go back and take more pictures!