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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 21)

CA: Why is it that whenever I go there, he gives me white gym socks?

Boruchin: You know Mike started out on Orchard Street in New York and he had a pushcart, and he was always there selling socks. He always says that he blesses the memory of [then-New York City Mayor Fiorello] La Guardia, because La Guardia kicked him out of Orchard Street with the pushcart and he had to move to Florida. And he started the cigar business. So, the love of his life has always been socks. So as not to forget that, he keeps a little stock of socks in his desk and everybody that he likes that comes to the store walks out with a pair of socks.

CA: Your store is one of the most beautiful stores in America. Do you have any plans to expand that one store or to add other stores? Either in Florida or elsewhere?

Boruchin: We have 6,500 square feet of retail store. The retail area is adequate. And even if we pile up more stuff in the store, it is adequate. Where we run out of space is in the warehouse, the wholesale and other department operations. We are looking into expanding that area. We are looking within the neighborhood where we are located right now. I have no plans to expand the store. We walk a thin line between being manufacturer, distributor and retailer. If I open up a lot of my cigar stores around the country, I would be competing with my friends. We are not planning to enlarge the retail operation.

CA: What do today's smokers buy? What are they smoking? What are the cigars that are in big demand in terms of flavor, strength, size, color, origin? What is the cigar that is in greatest demand?

Boruchin: The trend today is toward a strong cigar. Size favorites are robustos, a 4 1/2 or 5 [inch] x 50 ring gauge or a 5 1/2 x 50 ring gauge. On many occasions, you can't smoke a large cigar unless you find a friendly place or in your house. Most of the places you want a shorter smoke because you want to finish and you don't want to throw it away. When a new smoker walks in, the preference is for a mild cigar. But he graduates to a medium to strong cigar very quickly. I see them come in the first day and buy cigars. But then you see them a month later and they already are looking at a little stronger cigar, such as a Partagas, a Fuente, a Bauza. At the beginning, they all feel they want to start with a mild cigar. But it is surprising how they move pretty quickly to a strong smoke.

CA: How much do they want to spend on a cigar?

Boruchin: Price is no object. When you see that some of the retailers come to my place and pay full price and then go out to sell it at a tremendous profit, it means people are going in those places and buying cigars for $10, $9, $8 apiece. I think availability is the main issue today. If you have the product, you have no problem charging whatever you want.

CA: In south Florida, are there today many places where you can go and enjoy a nice meal and have a cigar afterwards? Or are there still a lot of problems in terms of having a place to eat and then smoke?

Boruchin: You still have a lot of problems. There're not too many places that you can go openly and light up a cigar where you're sitting. They allow you to smoke in the bar, in many cases. But, a lot of clubs are opening up, even though I don't count clubs. I like restaurants, where you can sit down and enjoy a cigar. One of them is The Forge, especially since they opened up the Cuba Club next door. But they keep humidors with cigars in both places. And you can light up a cigar any place in The Forge. It might be another half dozen restaurants like that. But that's all.

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