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USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 08:54AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

On the heels of the radio shack thread and talking about Walmart maybe one day coming to the USVI, I wanted to discuss what it would take to get a stateside grocery store chain down here.

The Island Crossing shopping center on STX seems like the perfect place and I would imagine one could be added to the Home Depot shopping complex on STT as well.

When I lived in Hawaii, Safeway was there and the price of groceries was very reasonable compared to here and we are talking about 3 times the distance to ship. Plus they always had the typical stateside 2 for 1 deals and coupons and such. To top it off, the selection was outstanding and the fruits and produce were very good as well.

Foodland was another chain that I think is only based in Hawaii but they were price competitive with Safeway because they had to be. Plus they had a deli counter with about 10 different kinds of Poke which was amazing along with octopus salad and other delicacies...yum!

Bottom line is the grocery stores in the USVI are pretty much monopolized by the Arab community. They can basically charge what they want and there is little competition since the other stores are also owned by Arabs. A stateside grocery store witch access to larger inventories and big suppliers would give them some serious competition and bring in different and better products for consumers.

This to me is one area that could significantly decrease the cost of living for every VI resident. If I were running for Governor, education, infrastructure, recycling, and attracting a large chain grocery store to setup shop in the VI would be my main platforms in that order of priority.

If our elected officials actually championed the causes of the people they represent, I would take this idea and try to see where it could go. But alas, we know how far that would get with our intellectually challenged and short sighted elected officials.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

vicanuck
June 07, 2017 09:11AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 2,285

There was talk a few years ago about a Save-A-Lot grocery store and a Burger King coming to the Island Crossing complex. But that was at a time when the developer was trying to convince the GVI to explore tax increment financing which is very common in other US jurisdictions. It could have been just been smoke and mirrors.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/07/2017 09:21AM by vicanuck.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Beeski
June 07, 2017 09:16AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 641

a) Hawaii has 14 times the population of the USVI
b) Hawaii doesn't have CBP harassing every shipment from the States
c) Pueblo is a Stateside grocery store chain (Chicago)
d) Cost-U-Less is a Stateside grocery store chain
e) Price Mart on STT is Stateside based
f) I would prefer the money to stay in the Territory, with locally owned firms who re-invest in our territory
g) The Arab community has been in the VI longer than you have.
h) The Arab store owners work/worked their asses off to get where they are today.
i) I am sick and tired of people blaming "the Arabs" for perceived shortcomings on our islands. My quality of life went up significantly when "the Arabs" took over the failed Schooner Bay Market (run into the ground by White Continentals) and put in a top quality small grocery store in Seaside Market (its on my way home). We bought a day bed a few weeks ago from an Arab owned store for less than we would have paid for it on West Elm's website.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

vicanuck
June 07, 2017 09:23AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 2,285

Good reply, Beeski...very true.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Beeski
June 07, 2017 09:32AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 641

Quote
vicanuck
There was talk a few years ago about a Save-A-Lot grocery store and a Burger King coming to the Island Crossing complex. But that was at a time when the developer was trying to convince the GVI to explore tax increment financing which is very common in other US jurisdictions. It could have been just been smoke and mirrors.

The GVI/PFA did a TIF financing deal to pay for the Home Depot shopping center, called Island Crossing. Doesn't sound like its working out as planned (but it did put Caribe out of business):

[stcroixsource.com]

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

ms411
June 07, 2017 09:42AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 3,472

Grand Union used to be on St Thomas before Marilyn. A stateside chain doesn't necessarily guarantee lower prices.

The best way to bring down prices is by not buying items that are ridiculously expensive. If you do buy them, don't complain. Nobody is forcing you to buy them.

Many things here are similar to some Stateside prices depending on where you shop.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 10:26AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

Quote
Beeski
a) Hawaii has 14 times the population of the USVI
The island of Kauai where I lived has about 50,000 people which is simlar to STT and STX populations
b) Hawaii doesn't have CBP harassing every shipment from the States
Exclude grocery items from CBP jurisdiction
c) Pueblo is a Stateside grocery store chain (Chicago)
Do the Pueblos in Chicago look like third world grocery stores? Are they associated with the Chicago chain in any way? Methinks no
d) Cost-U-Less is a Stateside grocery store chain
This thread is not about bulk item shopping
e) Price Mart on STT is Stateside based
This thread is not about bulk item shopping
f) I would prefer the money to stay in the Territory, with locally owned firms who re-invest in our territory
Agreed, but providing affordable groceries to the entire population is beyond local ability. There will always be demand for hgih end or specialty markets and this where the local entities should focus their efforts.
g) The Arab community has been in the VI longer than you have.
What does this have to do with providing affordable groceries?
h) The Arab store owners work/worked their asses off to get where they are today.
i) I am sick and tired of people blaming "the Arabs" for perceived shortcomings on our islands. My quality of life went up significantly when "the Arabs" took over the failed Schooner Bay Market (run into the ground by White Continentals) and put in a top quality small grocery store in Seaside Market (its on my way home). We bought a day bed a few weeks ago from an Arab owned store for less than we would have paid for it on West Elm's website.
Apparently I hit a nerve? I never said anything bad about the Arabs, I enjoy their friendly greetings at the various stores I frequent and I applaud their business savvy.

If you are happy with the way things are then there is no point in continuing the discussion. I believe we as consumers are in the right to want to have clean, affordable, well stocked stores. This is not currently the case when speaking of the Pueblos and Plazas on STT and STX. It is achievable and all the roadblocks that have been mentioned so far can be overcome.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 10:30AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

Quote
ms411
Grand Union used to be on St Thomas before Marilyn. A stateside chain doesn't necessarily guarantee lower prices.

The best way to bring down prices is by not buying items that are ridiculously expensive. If you do buy them, don't complain. Nobody is forcing you to buy them.

Many things here are similar to some Stateside prices depending on where you shop.

Its not just lower prices I am looking for although I am quite certain they would be lower on many items. Its also selection and cleanliness. Our grocery stores are pretty disgusting. Their selection is pretty appalling. And the customer service is subpar.

I have commented on other threads how we strive to obtain as much locally as possible. From growing our own to being a long time member of the Sejah CSA.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/07/2017 10:32AM by Matt T.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

islandjoan
June 07, 2017 11:00AM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,568

One thing I noticed recently...everyone pay attention next time you are in Plaza East on STX.

You know those weird little gadgets and things that are hanging above eye level in the produce section, and then also on the ledges between the fruit and veggie bins?

You never really notice them, right? Well take notice next time. Some of them look like they have been sitting there for over 20 years, and are all dirty and dusty. YUCK!!!!

Have to pay attention next time in Plaza West to see if they are the same.

With all the $$$$$ they make off of us, they really should spiff up the stores a little. The signage scream 70s (fonts and colors) and are all dingy and dirty.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Oldie1
June 07, 2017 11:34AM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 194

Beeski--I agree with you 100%

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 11:56AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

Look at the cash registers, the conveyor belts you put your groceries on, the floors, the ceilings, etc. They are filthy. So yes, spending as much money as we all do in these stores, its fair to expect a nicer environment with cleanliness, customer service, and selection.

Food and water are two things required to sustain life. Garbage In = Garbage Out

The places I procure these life sustaining items from I want to know are doing their very best to provide a clean environment and are offering good products at good prices.

Beeski mentioned Seaside. They are doing a great job at the above and I am never bummed when I go in there. However, they are certainly catering to the upper class with their pricing (except for the hot and cold food takeout). Similarly, STT has Gourmet Gallery and Fruit Bowl. Both doing a good job but catering to those who have extra dollars to spend.

I am talking about a grocery store that your average lower to middle class Virgin Islander can afford shopping in. Just imaging if we had a Publix down here! Ever been in a PR Pueblo? It is light years different from here.

One simply needs to go to BVI and shop the Rite Way in Roadtown to see what's possible. I used to live on Tortola and the food prices and selection were bad unless you wnet to a specialty market- but that was 9 years ago. I was back over there last year and shopped at the same Rite Way in Roadtown that I used to. It was amazing! Has been completely remodeled inside, amazing produce, fruits, veggies, fish, meat, and dry good selection. And you know what, the pricing has now come down to being lower than USVI. I was flabbergasted.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Scubadoo
June 07, 2017 12:13PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,035

Seaside Market thumbs up prices thumbs down

I got my Safeway rewards card last trip to Hawaii so all ready for that. But was certainly not impressed with Safeway.

Food Town is usually pretty spiffy and clean.

Ahem, Super Walmart. Kill two birds with one stone.

Latest issue of Consumer Reports has grocery store ratings. Walmart is on the bottom for service but prices and quality are good. I've been buying all my fresh fruit and vegies there stateside lately, better quality than the others nearby. Who'd a thunk it?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/07/2017 12:18PM by Scubadoo.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

vicanuck
June 07, 2017 12:13PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 2,285

I never really have had any issues with the cleanliness of the Plaza stores nor the selection. Maybe I've been here too long. I don't eat much anyway.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Gator's Mom
June 07, 2017 12:28PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 848

Rite Way in Road Town is extraordinarily fabulous. I don't find prices less than in USVI - maybe comparable to Seaside. But wow is it upscale!

Tortola is soooo different than it was even 10 years ago pushed along by the growth in the luxury yacht charter business for sure. I sailed last January in the BVI and our 40 foot boat looked like a dinghy compared to the other boats around.

Not to change the subject - but I wonder what will happen to the charter businesses if/when a hurricane hits Tortola? Nanny Cay has only 200 spaces on the hard available for this hurricane season - to serve over 3,000 boats or so I've been told - stats are not documented but from coconut telegraph.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

stxsailor
June 07, 2017 02:40PM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 498

Many of the Moorings boats go to Virgin Gorda in a hurricane and tuck back in the sound.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

rmb2830
June 07, 2017 02:42PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 442

The day I mentioned to the Plaza East folks that the big brown rat was heading from the bread aisle into the next one over, they just kept asking me if it was dead...which would make no sense considering what I was saying...No one even went to look, although he had gone under the shelving so wasn't too obvious at that point.
Many of the bugs that fly around inside are the type that come out of the old bags of dry food...very little in staples will be ordered now until delivery in late November or Dec, as the snowbirds add to the volume of buyers. Until then, you can watch the volume of products on the shelves get lower and lower, things like canned vegetables, soup, etc.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 03:40PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

Quote
rmb2830
The day I mentioned to the Plaza East folks that the big brown rat was heading from the bread aisle into the next one over, they just kept asking me if it was dead...which would make no sense considering what I was saying...No one even went to look, although he had gone under the shelving so wasn't too obvious at that point.
Many of the bugs that fly around inside are the type that come out of the old bags of dry food...very little in staples will be ordered now until delivery in late November or Dec, as the snowbirds add to the volume of buyers. Until then, you can watch the volume of products on the shelves get lower and lower, things like canned vegetables, soup, etc.

Wow! I knew it was bad but not that bad. Obviously things aren't going to improve anytime soon. But I guess some people are just fine with the status quo.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

stxsailor
June 07, 2017 04:05PM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 498

"Wow! I knew it was bad but not that bad. Obviously things aren't going to improve anytime soon. But I guess some people are just fine with the status quo."


too many are afraid of anything other than the status quo.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Matt T
June 07, 2017 04:08PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 261

For Beeski's comment that Pueblo is a stateside chain. My research says no.

Wikipedia: Pueblo

If you buy something at Pueblo with a card, it will show up on your statement as World Fresh Market. There is a World Fresh Market in Chicago and coincidentally carries many Middle Eastern foods, not sure if they are related and it doesn't appear to be a chain. And I bet there are not rats or bugs in that store.

World Fresh Market

This is the USVI Pueblo website:

wfmpueblo

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Gator's Mom
June 07, 2017 05:35PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 848

Pueblo's 4 stores in the VI are owned by Ahmad Al Khatib from Chicago.

Pueblo in PR became part of Econo after 2007 bankruptcy.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain
avatar

rotorhead
June 07, 2017 05:57PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 2,449

Al Khatib, 51, of Chicago was arrested Sept, 10, 2009, and charged with using illegal connections to steal $1.3 million of electricity from the V.I. Water and Power Authority at his four stores in the territory.
[www.triborobanner.com]

According to this article, Pueblo switched to paper bags in 2011 as part of a plea deal because they stole $1.3M from WAPA.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Scubadoo
June 07, 2017 08:41PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,035

I don't recall ever getting a paper bag out of Pueblo.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

vicanuck
June 08, 2017 08:02AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 2,285

Quote
rmb2830
The day I mentioned to the Plaza East folks that the big brown rat was heading from the bread aisle into the next one over, they just kept asking me if it was dead...

There are rats everywhere in the VI. I've gotten used to them.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Alana33
June 08, 2017 09:34AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 11,872

Hate to burst the bubble but any stateside chain that comes in here will start out great just like Kmart, PriceSmart and Home Depot originally did and over time, shall slowly devolve. We've all seen it happen. In the beginning, everything is clean and their help is tripping over you to help.
A few months later, you're hunting for someone to do so.

Pueblo and Plaza Extra are comparatively filthy and overpriced.
When they had paper bags, instead of coupons, you got roaches. Ugh!
Part of the charm of island living? Not so much.

The Home Depot in my location here in FL is night and day different from the one on STT. There's always someone to help you, customer service is excellent, have a wide selection of products and it's very clean and the services they offer are outstanding.
Ditto for the grocery stores.

Re: USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain

Scubadoo
June 08, 2017 09:25PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,035

Well I don't know, I don't see much difference between the STX HD and the ones I shop in NC. There are inventory differences but that's attributed to regional practice. There is stuff in the STX store not in NC and vice versa. Now if they could just get that ship to store option going on STX we'd be set. Even if they charged a little extra it would be better than nothing.

Pueblo and Plaza Extra, yeah they are no Publix.

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