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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 3)

CA: Can you explain how your taxi driver job led you into the cigar business?

Boruchin: One day, I picked up a Cuban family at the airport. When we got to the destination, they had no money to pay me. But they were carrying a box of cigars because Castro let everybody out of Cuba with one or two boxes. They suggested that I could collect the fare with a box of cigars. I took it. I didn't know if I was going to lose money or make money, but I took the box of cigars for the fare and I went to Miami Beach, to Zelig's on Lincoln Road. He gave me $10 for that box.

CA: What was it? Do you remember?

Boruchin: Oh, yeah! Montecristo No. 4. Now, I figured if I could go to the airport and buy the cigars for $9 a box and manage to buy 10 to 15 boxes a day, I would make more money than driving a taxi and I wouldn't have to work 12 hours a day. So, I took a little money and went to the airport. The Cubans arrived without a penny, and the only thing they had that could be converted into money was that box of cigars.

CA: What did you pay for a box of cigars?

Boruchin: Nine dollars.

CA: What did you sell it for?

Boruchin: Ten dollars.

CA: You only made a $1 profit on each box?

Boruchin: Don't forget that I was buying 10, 12, sometimes 15 boxes at a time. In my mind, I was thinking $15 a day would be over $100 a week. That was two and a half times what I was making driving a taxi. For me, it was tremendous. Within two months, it de-veloped into a tremendous business. Two months later, I had people helping me. I was buying a couple of hundred boxes a day. I didn't have a market in Miami. I came to New York to sell the surplus.

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