An Interview with Oscar Boruchin
Owner of Licenciados and 8-9-8 Collection cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97
(continued from page 11)
CA: Does that mean that most of the growth was in the wholesale business?
Boruchin: Yes. Don't forget Mike didn't carry a full line [at retail] of merchandise from everybody. When I came in with the wholesale operation, he was only carrying two or three sizes of the Te-Amo. Then we added the whole line. He was only carrying two or three sizes of Montecruz. We added the whole line. The only company where Mike was carrying the whole line was General Cigar merchandise. While he was adding all of this merchandise for wholesale inventory, retail sales grew, too, in the different sizes.
CA: Did the retail business grow the same as the wholesale side or did it contract?
Boruchin: Our retail business was growing in a dying industry. A lot of retailers were going out of business. A lot of small shops were closing. But we were discounters. We were a consumer-oriented company. We were offering popular cigars at a tremendous price.
CA: Where did most of your business come from--residents of Miami Beach or tourists?
Boruchin: It was a combination. When I arrived, Mike had discontinued his mail-order business, so most of the business did come from the residents and tourists. In 1985, I started the mail-order again. Luckily, he had kept his records, so the minute I had full control of the company, I put out a letter which went to maybe 4,000 or 5,000 names. I re-established the mail-order side. We have been growing ever since. But other stores kept going out of business. They couldn't afford the rent on the malls or whatever. Maybe we were selling fewer cigars, but our share of the market was growing.
CA: I remember when I visited Mike's in 1991, the thing I loved about it the most was--forgive me for saying this--but it was a dumpy, almost garage-like store that was loaded with merchandise. Anyone who loves cigars would walk in there and thought they died and went to heaven. It wasn't fancy. There was nothing elegant about it, it was down and dirty. The counter cases looked as if they had been there since 1950. Which cigars were selling well then?
Boruchin: Te-Amo was always very strong, and Montecruz and Don Diego were also very strong brands. All the national brands were doing well. We also did a tremendous business in the seconds of Macanudo and Partagas, which we had an exclusive on from General Cigar.
CA: Did people know they were buying seconds from Macanudo?
Boruchin: Yes, they did. We didn't necessarily advertise it, but sometimes the sales staff would tell people. Normally, we just said they were seconds of the best brands on the market. People understood, because the sizes were identical and the color of the wrapper was identical. But we were careful. We felt, and General Cigar felt, that it might hurt the main brand.
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