PEOPLE The waiters at 8.0 in the Quadrangle know BERGE BOGHOSSIAN as the friendly neighborhood going-out-of-business rug merchant. Many know him well enough to recognize he was sweating bullets onto his blue plate specials during the August coup in the Soviet Union that attempted to oust MIKHAIL GORBACHEV.
Boghossian’s anxiety was not unusual for someone who grew up in Soviet Armenia during the Stalin era. But he had more than ethnic loyalty at stake: For two years, he’s been trying to escape the rug trade via perestroika and this month had expected 10 complete his conversion to international arms merchant. As a joint venture partner with Russia’s oldest armory (dating back to the Russian Empire), he’s been looking forward to a shotgun marriage of sorts.
After the coup’s failure, Boghossian received assurances that his deal was still on with the Tula Armory, best known in recent, years for its output of AK-47s. Now he’s once again expecting delivery of his first shipment of 95 hand-tooled 12-and 20-gauge shotguns. Boghossian, who’s shopping for retail space for his Big Bear Arms and Sporting Goods, believes the rare shotguns alone will attract crowds. An added attraction will be the occasional Russian craftsman on site to personalize the ornate $4,000 and not-so-ornate $1,100 shotguns. Boghossian says the management at Tula has promised to provide all the guns he can sell in exchange for a share of the hard currency that never trickled down when exports were limited to “fraternal” socialist nations.
Retail prices will reflect the 65 percent customs duty imposed by the U.S. government, but if the new Russia/Soviet Union is granted Most Favored Nation trade status, Boghossian says, the import duty will fall to 4.5 percent. Lower import duty could mean lower prices with ample profit margin remaining for maker and marketer.