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An Interview With Robert Levin

Owner, Holt's Cigar Store, Inc., and the Ashton Brand
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 4)

Levin: My father started the mail-order business. A lot of it was in the local Philadelphia market, in the suburbs, for instance. But he built it up over the years. He did everything himself. He sent out the mailing pieces and gathered the names. We never bought mailing lists. It was just friends telling friends and accumulating names over a long period of time. Now, we send out 70,000 catalogs.

CA: What percentage of your business does the store represent?

Levin: The store represents about one-third, the catalog accounts for one-third and the Ashton brand contributes about one-third.

CA: So, the store and the mail-order are about equal?

Levin: Yes, the mail-order revenues are a little higher than the store. Of course, we're talking about the new store, which opened in 1995. It's a totally different ballgame.

CA: Before the cigar boom began in 1992, what percentage of revenues did the store represent versus the catalog?

Levin: At the time, there were more revenues in the store. It was about 60 percent store, 40 percent in the catalog.

CA: In 1995, how did the business do?

Levin: Revenues went up about four times.

CA: And in 1996, what are you looking at with your new store having opened in 1995?

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