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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 4)

CA: In 1961, what brands were people bringing with them?

Boruchin: They were bringing Por Larrañaga Cedros, Romeo y Julieta Churchills and a lot of H. Upmanns, which was the easiest cigar to get in Cuba at the time.

CA: Did you offer different prices for different-sized cigars?

Boruchin: No, every box was $9. Size didn't matter. Brand didn't matter. Nothing else.

CA: You started selling the cigars in New York?

Boruchin: The Miami market got clogged up. I couldn't sell anymore. I didn't sell them to Mike [Mersel, former owner of Mike's Cigars] because he wanted to pay too little money. But Zelig [Gimelstein] was paying me the $10, also any size, any box. You can imagine he was making a killing. At one point, however, he owed me money. He couldn't get rid of the boxes as fast as I was buying them. It was funny. A lot of people at the airport distrusted me, and they wouldn't sell me any cigars. I would give them a card with my telephone number. At first, I did it as a joke, but within a couple of weeks my wife was spending 20 hours a day answering the phone from people who wanted me to come pick up the cigars they hadn't been able to sell.

CA: Was there anything illegal about your activity?

Boruchin: I don't know. I never checked. I paid my taxes at the end with my accountant. I don't know if it was illegal. I don't think it was.

CA: When the glut developed in Miami, you came to New York with the cigars. Who did you sell them to?

Boruchin: The people who were buying from me in Miami were shipping the cigars to New York anyway. I found out about that, and I took a plane up here. I ended up on 86th and Broadway at a little tobacco shop owned by Mr. Danny Blumenthal [today, the owner of Villazon].

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