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Can I bring a cottage food business to the VI?  

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61lisa
(@61lisa)
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May 27, 2016 5:58 pm  

Hi everyone! This is my first post. We are considering retiring to the VI, and I am wondering if I will be able to continue my current home baking business. In Michigan (as in many other states,) people can legally bake out of their homes under the state's Cottage Food Laws. Is there such a thing in the VI? I'd like to continue my baking business, but I'm not crazy about the idea of obtaining my own professional kitchen, or working standard bakery hours! You can see my business website at www.bakingitpersonal.com if you're not sure what I mean. Any info would be great - thanks!


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OldTart
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May 27, 2016 6:03 pm  

You would need to contact the VI Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs on whichever island you plan on settling.


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CruzanIron
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May 27, 2016 6:11 pm  

Electric or gas oven?

Can you handle an electric bill 4 times what you pay now and make a profit?


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quirion
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May 27, 2016 6:34 pm  

Certainly seems to be plenty of home baking going on on island(stx)
No idea if it's licensed or not though.


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mtdoramike
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May 27, 2016 6:55 pm  

There are several bakeries on St. Thomas. I checked out your website and it made my mouth water. But a gluten free lemon pound cake is criminal.

mike


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watruw8ing4
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May 27, 2016 7:00 pm  

I've seen on Facebook sale pages where people have told others making food and selling from home that they still need a business license. I don't know of any cottage laws here. Best to call and find out.


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Alana33
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May 27, 2016 7:29 pm  

Make sure you have propane stoves and not electric.
Costs of electricity is high here.

I know someone that makes desserts and caters for weddings and such and she works out of her home.
She had to get a business license and form a LLC for her business name.
See link:
http://dlca.vi.gov/businesslicense/steps.htm


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ms411
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May 27, 2016 7:55 pm  

I typed a lengthy response and hit wrong key. Don't know where it went, sigh.


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Gumbo
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May 27, 2016 10:22 pm  

I think to be licensed too cook out of your home you need a seperate cooking space just for the business. Other than that, yes you can. I have friends that have been through this.


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61lisa
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May 27, 2016 11:08 pm  

Thanks for all the good information! We are so early on in the process that it's not really that important at the moment. I just wanted to know if it is even possible for me to move my tiny micro-business with me. Sounds like I need to develop some great no-bake recipes!


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watruw8ing4
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May 27, 2016 11:52 pm  

I looked at your web site and now I'm drooling. One thing you also should know is that you'll need to do some tweaking to accommodate baking at sea level, and in humidity and heat. It took me several tries to get my old recipes up to snuff here.


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Spartygrad95
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May 27, 2016 11:59 pm  

I just looked at her website too and the baked goods look delicious, the only problem I see is Ann Arbor. We don't like those folks here on STT.


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Alana33
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May 28, 2016 12:46 am  

"Sounds like I need to develop some great no-bake recipes!"

Baking is fine with me...like how that lemon cupcake with blackberry buttercream
looks! Yum! You've now got my sweet tooth in overdrive!:@)
One of my favorite local bakery goods are guava turnovers.

Seriously tho, if and when you move here, you should definitely have a propane stove. It'll save you when the power goes out. (It can go out often.)
One without an electronic ignition for the oven. They're hard to find these days.

Don't know what Sparty is talking about with his "We don't like those folks here in STT." Ignore it.


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Spartygrad95
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May 28, 2016 1:12 am  

"Sounds like I need to develop some great no-bake recipes!"

Baking is fine with me...like how that lemon cupcake with blackberry buttercream
looks! Yum! You've now got my sweet tooth in overdrive!:@)
One of my favorite local bakery goods are guava turnovers.

Seriously tho, if and when you move here, you should definitely have a propane stove. It'll save you when the power goes out. (It can go out often.)
One without an electronic ignition for the oven. They're hard to find these days.

Don't know what Sparty is talking about with his "We don't like those folks here in STT." Ignore it.

She will understand and know it's a joke. God knows you don't.


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ms411
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May 28, 2016 6:44 am  

Unless the law has changed, you need a separate kitchen from your home kitchen. It's not a problem for many people because many homeowners have rental units that have kitchens so instead of renting them out they use the unit as a "commercial" kitchen. I'm pretty sure it has to be inspected and approved by some govt agency in addition to the others you will need approval from for a license.

Some places in the States have commercial kitchens that you can rent by the hour or day so cottage industries such as yours can get started. No such thing here, but imo is needed. There are quite a few shuttered restaurants on St Thomas that could possibly be used as such. You would need to sell them on the idea of a by the hour commercial kitchen concept and recruit other cooks to use the spot. I know someone who was looking for part time space for her food biz. Don't know what she found. Tillett Gardens on St Thomas has several micro food businesses on their property. They have art fairs several times a year so good way to market your business.

The University of Virgin Islands offers classes from time to time on cooking/cake decorating/desserts, etc. They are usually offered through UVI CELL or the Cooperative Extension department, and are a good source for networking and marketing. They sometimes need instructors so you might want to consider teaching part time.

You will also need a health card which is separate from a business license. They are offered by the government through the Department of Health, I think. Google can give you specifics.


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Alana33
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May 28, 2016 7:11 am  

You should check with licensing on this.
I'm not sure you need a separate kitchen but your zoning would have to allow use.


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61lisa
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May 28, 2016 9:45 am  

@Alana 33 & Spartygrad95

No offense taken! While we would be moving to the VI from Ann Arbor, we have no real affiliation with the University of Michigan, and can appreciate humor from a Michigan State grad! We do love Ann Arbor - but after a lifetime of moving with the military, we consider ourselves citizens of the world with Virginia being the closest thing to "home." BTW, I went to the University of Virginia, and my DH went to Virginia Tech (and Arkansas and Syracuse) 🙂

Thanks again to all for the info!


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East Ender
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May 28, 2016 1:24 pm  

I would love to have someone bake bread, rolls, croissants, etc. The Grateful Deli is sorely missed.


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Scubadoo
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May 28, 2016 4:52 pm  

I would love to have someone bake bread, rolls, croissants, etc. The Grateful Deli is sorely missed.

You don't like TLC Kitchen?


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Alana33
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May 28, 2016 5:45 pm  

Where's that?


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East Ender
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May 28, 2016 8:15 pm  

I googled it. It seems to be in St Croix. Boo, hoo... We need one over here in Rock City. On the east end.;)


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ms411
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May 28, 2016 8:42 pm  

The croissants at Plaza aren't too bad. I'm not fond of their rolls, though. I usually buy rolls at one of the bakeries in town and since I'm in town early I usually get them when they're still warm. I have to go to Red Hook next week, I think, so I'll pm you to let you know when. I'll bring you some rolls!

When I worked in East End my coworkers loved the stuff I used to bring them from town. I felt sorry for them because options limited out there.

There is somebody at Labor who makes incredible cake pops. I had them at a cake sale outside Lockhart KMart. They were magazine gorgeous and so moist and tasty. Guess I'll go by there Tue and find out who makes them. They are addictive!


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Scubadoo
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May 29, 2016 1:07 am  

I googled it. It seems to be in St Croix. Boo, hoo... We need one over here in Rock City. On the east end.;)

Got it half right, they are on the East end of STX:D


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Gumbo
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May 29, 2016 1:21 am  

You should check with licensing on this.
I'm not sure you need a separate kitchen but your zoning would have to allow use.

Residenial zoning does allow this, and yes you have to use a separate kitchen for your business. Just like every structure except a dog house is supposed to be permitted.


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Alana33
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May 29, 2016 10:47 am  

Zoning only permits so many kitchens depending on the zoning of property.
For instance, R-1 only allows 2 kitchens per lot.
If you have more than that, they can and will make you take it out, if discovered.
Which is why I suggested contacting licensing but actually in this instance it would be DPNR because it has to do with zoning.


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