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100 Years of Retailing

Shandana A. Durrani
From the Print Edition:
Linda Evangelista, Autumn 95

(continued from page 4)

The shop has been a major provider of pipes for the Boston community, even going so far as installing a pipe maker on premises. But due to the popularity of cigars, it is now predominantly a cigar store, according to Macdonald. In fact, the store carries 30 premium cigar brands as well as the usual array of cutters, humidors and cases.

Macdonald's other shop in neighboring Cambridge, Leavitt & Peirce, is run by his son Paul Jr., 39. Founded on Harvard Square in 1886 by Sam Leavitt and a Mr. Peirce, it has often been referred to as the "other college in the square," according to Macdonald. Many famous politicians have crossed its threshold, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Despite its devoted clientele, the store declined in the 1950s until a group of Harvard graduates campaigned to save the landmark. They approached fellow Harvard alumni William and Richard Ehrlich and asked them to purchase the store. In 1956, it became a part of the Ehrlich holdings. Macdonald started managing the store in 1973.

Besides cigars, the store displays a lot of Harvard memorabilia. "If you went into the store, it is like going back in history," says Macdonald. "It is more like a museum for Harvard. It is a wonderful store."

Macdonald emphatically believes in the cigar business, and he maintains that it is a fiercely competitive, yet equally friendly, business. "Because of the success, the industry has become much more friendly with each other. We are willing to share and talk about what's good in the industry."

Because Macdonald believes that the popularity of cigars will level in the next decade, he is diversifying his stores. Both stores have branched out to include more than tobacco products. David Ehrlich's offers wine as well as tobacco products, and Leavitt & Peirce provides customers with a selection of men's toiletries, leather goods and Harvard-associated products.

"Whatever the customer wants, as long as it is not illegal or immoral, you are going to get it," says Macdonald. "They don't really need you--you need them."

* * *

Straus Tobacconist, Cincinnati, Ohio
Established 1880

"The new cigar phenomenon has made the good stores much better and it has made the bad stores much worse." -James Clark, 39, owner

Half a nation away, in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, lies another historic tobacco landmark. Straus Tobacconist has a unique and hazy history that dates back about 115 years.

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