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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 13)

CA: When you moved to your new store last year, you were very nervous because you went from a little hole in the wall to a good-sized store.

Boruchin: We went from 1,800 square feet to 16,500 square feet. And, instead of renting, we bought the building for over a million and a half dollars.

CA: It sounds like you did the right thing.

Boruchin: God knows. The business was already pointed in the right direction two years ago, though. And, it looked like we couldn't continue on Arthur Godfrey Road. I was convinced that I had to move in order to even maintain the business that I was doing.

CA: It would seem that maybe the biggest change from a retailer's or a wholesaler's point of view would be that in the '80s you could get as much of any brand as you wanted, and today you're dependent upon your relationships with the manufacturers. Is that true?

Boruchin: Yes. But we were lucky. We were in a position in the market when the Cigar Aficionado revolution came that helped us cash in. We were probably the second-largest company in the United States in the cigar business. We were in the right place at the right time.

CA: Second to JR Tobacco.

Boruchin: Yes. By the way, we are very friendly competitors and personal friends. He [Lew Rothman, owner of JR Tobacco] is one of my largest suppliers of cigars.

CA: Many cigar lovers are frustrated about how difficult it is to get their favorite cigars. They always ask, "How long will it be before we can get the established brands?" What do you think?

Boruchin: I think every manufacturer is making tremendous investments, from growing tobacco to training cigar makers to making more boxes. You know the shortage of boxes is one of the biggest problems, even though it's not mentioned very often. I would say that if the consumption continues to grow at this rate, [we may never catch up]. If at one point, the growth does slow down, the bigger manufacturers will catch up. I actually hope it never happens, even though some people are frustrated. You know why? There're a lot of great products on the market, and a lot of new products are coming to the market. Some of them are great, and you can still find good cigars. When I left my place in Miami, I had a good supply of almost every major brand. That doesn't mean that two weeks from now we might not be out of everything.

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