For those thinking of moving to St. Thomas
I have been reading a great deal of information being posted here about moving here to St. Thomas.
I am a bit concerned because some of the information given here is kind of misleading. Before I moved here some time ago, this site (actually the parent site, vinow.com) was my sole source of good information.
However, many of the persons that use to frequent the board are no longer here. What I am concerned about it the picture that is being presented to outsiders.
FIRST and FOREMOST...I have noticed several comments in regards to "in the states this..." ...many reflections about the way that things are done in the states.
My dear friend. ST THOMAS IS NOT THE STATES. The sooner you realize this, your life will be much easier. I am not making excuses, but rather offering a realistic view. I have heard so many people say things like "In Florida this that and the the other..." Customer Service in the states. People do this and that.
It's all gibberish. This is a different place. With a different Culture. Things are done differently here. That is just the way the cookie crumbles.
Now for outsiders thinking of moving here, let me give you some reality.
1. This is not the states, so don't expect it to be.
2. THIS IS NOT JAMAICA. So don't get here expecting weed everywhere and saying "hey mon" to everyone.
3. There are some dangerous parts of the islands.....but don't be stupid...for those that love the constant comparisions to the states...are there not sections of you own cities that you don't go to?
4. There are stores here from the states but....
This is a tricky one. Because people on both sides tend to misunderstand this one. There are two types of customer flow here. (I work in retail). You have tourist traffic and local traffic. I was a bit bothered by one young ladies remark here about customer service at a particular location. I would be curious to know if she deals with the former, which would make her remark understandable...not correct, but nevertheless understandable. I see it every day when people go to stores with a chip on their shoulder when they walk in...then expect people to bend over backwards for them. Don't try to haggle prices anyplace other than in town and havensight. You can't get a discount at Kmart in Key West...So why would you think you could haggle them in St. Thomas?
Places I shop at on a frequent basis: (criterion being clean, good customer service and product availabiltiy)
Kmart, OfficeMax, Pricesmart, Cost U Less, Modern Music (havensight location only), and Dockside Books.
5. For those that are thinking of moving here...don't let others discourage you or get you down. There are some people on this board that don't like it here. That is fine and understandable. But don't paint a bad picture and ruin it for others. Go home to the states.
Thank you for your time.
Don't Mess With Texas!!!
been here for almost two years.
Again my biggest complaint is not with the local people or culture but rather the people who come here TO LIVE (not visit) trying to "make it like the states" or expecting it to be like the states.
You hit it on the head Islander when you used the word "adapting". There are many here that are not doing that. They rather just sit around to moan and grown about what is and what is not.
I think if we really get around to comparing Jamaica to St Thomas.....Jamaica is gonna win out.
>The original poster said:
>My dear friend. ST THOMAS IS NOT THE STATES. The sooner you realize this, your life >will be much easier. I am not making excuses, but rather offering a realistic view. I >have heard so many people say things like "In Florida this that and the the other..." >Customer Service in the states. People do this and that.
>It's all gibberish. This is a different place. With a different Culture. Things are done >differently here. That is just the way the cookie crumbles.
This is good advice for personal survival. This is what we have and we must learn to live with it. But overall.....it is this attitude that is also preventing us from even attempting change. We just accept poor service and call it culture.
I do not accept poor service just because I am here. When it occurs, I go to the management and let them know....and when possible, take my business elsewhere. In my business I succeed by delivering what I promise, when I promise it and with a good positive service oriented attitude.
There are many other islands in the Caribbean, with similar cultures, that are thriving and progressing. Their success comes through a combination of education and training, but more importantly..ATTITUDE!
In Jamaica, (I visit there several time a year) there is a can-do attitude, plus an entreprenurial spirit that rivals the US. In order to get a job in the tourism industry, at all levels, you must have training and a license. Yes, licensed busboys! The training is not only job specific, but also addresses attitude and how to show Jamaica and Jamaicans in a good light. Jamaicans go out of their way and bend over backward to provide good service. True....it's still not like the states. It is a bit different due to culture but the jobs get done and the experience is at least pleasant and most times very enjoyable.
Not so in STT. The overall attitude is that this is how we do it, if you don't like it....go home. You are lucky I'm even helping you at all, so take my surly attitude and deal with it.
Some things cannot be changed. This a small rock in a big ocean. Things will have to be imported and will take more time and money than in the states. But attitude IS changable. And until we stop just rolling over and accepting it we will never change and will have even more trouble competing in the world marketplace.
I have now been on St. Thomas for one week. It has gone relatively smoothly. We are staying in temporary lodging and waiting for our household goods to arrive later in June. By and large the people I have ran into have been friendly. I say my good mornings, good evenings and probably 80% of the locals respond in kind. My first adventure with island time was getting a new cell phone. I went with sprint and a lovely lady named Eboni helped me out at the Havensight office. She was great and the guy working with her was more of the typical island time person. There was a long line of cruise ship employees and he would help out people he knew at the end of the line who walked in. Luckily I got Eboni because she was fantastic. My greatest adjustment has been in the search for real estate. Most people will need to adjust their expectations. I thought I would be able to purchase a single family home in a nice area for $600k. I have seen homes for $845k that I would not of lived in when I was in college. If you live in a home in the states in the $300k-500k range expect to not see anything you like here until you reach the $900k to $1.3 range. The rental market is tight as well. If your looking for 1-2 bedrooms there is a lot to choose from. If you need 3 or more rooms it gets competitive. We thought we had a beach house in Frenchmans this week but were out bid at the last minute. It has only been one week but so far my wife and I love it. This morning we ran from Magens Bay up through Peterbourg and then went for a swim at Magens. It was there we realized it was worth the hassles and the sacrifice. We are patient and Im sure we will find a home that we love. Good luck to all.
My two cents.
I've worked retail in 5 mainland states (15 cities from hick towns to major metropolitans.) I have also been lucky to work on two of the US Islands Hawaii and Key West. What I have gleened from all this experience is that there is no difference in retail environments.
If a store has crappy associates the store will be crappy to shop in. Management is totally responsible for this.
In general, islanders either work as hard as or harder than the average person. How many people on the mainland have to work two to three jobs just to cover rent. After you lose that touristy view of the place how often do locals go to hang out at the beach? Realistically, not very often. Yes, you do take if for granted. I have associates who have lived on the island for their entire lives and can't remember the last time they swam in the ocean. Now this island is 3 mi by 5 mi. Yes, turnover is higher because you don't have a huge job pool to pick from, retail pays the most basic job wage. There are not too many college grads walking in with resumes to become a cashier. Its not like the retail environment in the mainland is stellar. Again, it is the individual management of a store that will determine how well a store is run. That is why you can have a Kmart on one part of the island that is great and the other bad. As a shopper myself, I tend to not rely my sole decision on a major purchase based on a person who is getting paid minimum wage. It's nobodies fault, but as someone with common sense I would put a little more effort into it.
Native Island culture. Again no different than in the US. You go to any small hick town and the culture will be different than in the big cities. Add to it the fact that your town is over run by tourists, and you do have a challenging environment. Most of these people are never going to leave their respective island. They are going to live at home and live like their parents. Is it bad or good. It depends on what the individuals want. Those that feel like there is no future are not going to be go getters. Would you be. Just on the opposite side is that I have worked with locals who wanted to see the world and their work ethic would put a mainlander to shame.
I differ in my suggestions on how to deal with island life. No, don't accept things that are not right because "it is the island way," but spend an equal amount of open minded time of trying to understand why things are done that way. I have dealt with many associates who have come to work 10 minutes late because they were on "island time." My answer is clear and concise, "I am not from the islands." That tends to resolve the "island crutch."
To: Steve N.
Your 2 cents!
I hope you have a plan because you may be in for a rude awaking. This culture, as backwards as some people may time, is as pure and real as you will find. The people of St. Thomas can teach you that, sometimes, time should not be a factor. This is paradise - warm, clear waters, beautiful weather (year-round I might add) and some real nice folks. Islander said it - adapting to your surroundings is key. If you do not arrive with a plan, you are screwed. If your coming down here without a place to stay (even for the short term and no transportation), your starting off on the wrong foot.
I think I read somewhere that your coming down soon - start planning now!! All ya need is the internet and/or a phone. Save yourself some time and effort. You may be hard pressed to find someone who has the time (on want) to drive you around while you "look" for a place. Plan Now!!
And one more thing - if your going to manage a local store that depends on "local" people as employees, and you come in ready to kick "a" for those that don't conform to your way, you'll find yourself, in short order, working the store by yourself.
Preparation is the key to success in pretty much everything. In regards to my move, the car is shipped and is being handled for me paid by someone else. I have a rent a car here until the day I leave and a rent a car waiting for me at the airport when I arrive. I did have someone willing to pick me up however I declined since I already have three alternative places to stay and the ability to walk into any resort with a credit card and stay wherever. I will be bringing a decent supply of cash as well as a large cashiers check to open an account and to put money down on a place to stay as well as to cover deposits for any local needs ie (phone, cable, utilities, etc.) I have a week of vacation to spend time getting things settled with an option for another week if necessary. I currently live in a efficiency (a term that really means closet with a bed, in which I pay over a $1000 for currently,) so sticker shock is not an issue nor is it a requirement to live on the beach. I work extremely long hours so a place to sleep is all that is needed. I love McDonalds so food won't be an issue. (In Waikiki the cost of a Big Mac Meal is $8.00) I also have the ability to say when the store is to standard and that I am no longer needed. It is not a huge risk for me as it is for some people moving here for a permanent basis. To be honest with you, I have no expectations for my time in the VI. I'm here for the job, fishing, and doing something new.
In regards to my job, I have enough experience in this field to have a good comfort level in what needs to be done and how to do it. Without all the specifics, my mentality is very straight forward. 1) Show up/ on time. 2) Work hard. 3) Have fun. 4) Go home. If a person cannot fulfill these requirements then probably it is a wrong career choice for them. Beyond the island living mentality, the real underlying which covers pretty much everybody islander/mainlander is that work is not a choice we make because it is our priority in life , but a effort we put into something because of a reward - a paycheck. Very few people would be working if it was not for profit. My mentality is that you can work or not. That is your choice. I am totally comfortable cycling through 15-25 associates for one stand out. I just choose not to settle. In the end I have a well oiled machine that meshes well and fits the needs of the company. Does that mean things are over. No, you keep hiring because there is always someone better and people always leave. You just have to be prepared. (See sentence one.) For those who think it is harsh or unrealistic, understand this is how I choose to run my business (within the four walls,) not how I view life nor how I want to change the island/world. Outside of those four walls I will compete with any islander on how laid back you can get.
Type-A at work and Type-Z at home.
We're all different, we all have different experiences, mines was good and bad, but YOU can't take it into account to make a decision about moving to the islands. Don't get me wrong, the same bad steps you can make on the islands you can make on the mainland, it's just the percentage on the islands is higher, crime is an issue, cause it's a small island, get it, small, so percentage of everything tend to be big, yes, you can live on Miami, and hear some really disgusting news, but you know what, you're intelligent, so you move 20-50 miles away from the area, were are you going to move so far on the islands, on the middle of the sea? About food and everyday use things, it can get pretty expensive, it's not the same going to Pueblo or states Winn Dixie with $20, on the islands that's enough for like a day or two, and salaries there are not the best. If I were well off, and probably well enough to buy me a property around Northside, I would do it, but I'll wait until I'm 50 or 60 years old, I'm not just about to waste productive years on an island in which TO ME time stopped, it's going backwards!
Afraid I'm going to have to agree with Steve. I've been in management for 30 years and know that the service that you provide your customers is what makes or breaks a business. Tight management is definately the key, as Steve said, and if your employees aren't up to the standards you require, you can always find someone to take their place. Once the word gets around that the service and people in your store are top notch, you won't even have to worry about the competition. And no, you won't be running the store by yourself. All you need to do is check this website. There are tons of people planning to move to the VI everyday, that would be glad to have a job and meet any standards you require!! Trust me!!
East Ender:...Yes there are Labor Laws..and Labor Laws and Labor Laws..but I have been in Human Resources Management over 30 years and believe me it's all about documenting and consistency in application of discipline. Do this and stay off the EEOC's list of employers to watch. Also, there is an employment law call "Employment At Will" where an employer can fire an employee "for a reason or not for a reason" as long as the employee does not have a written employment contract..actual or implied by words of the hiring supervisor. Even if the USVI is not an "At-Will"state..which three-fourths of the states are, employees that are not producing to employers satisfaction, can safely get them off the payroll with proper documentation.
So Steve..I agree with you buddy..but who knows... the EEOC is run by people and WHO KNOWS WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DO. Good luck Steve hope you can turn your store around.
East Ender is, unfortunately, right on target on the employee issue. The VI is a "right to work" territory in the most vast sense of that term that you can imagine. Two years ago, my sister had to spend three separate days over several weeks before the VI Labor Board defending a wrongful discharge claim filed by an employee who had resigned - - even after presenting the employee's written resignation letter to the Board!! After that incident, she and I both realized how correct our Mom was when she would tell us that "Its not always what you know but who you know". Thorough documentation is helpful but not always enough - especially when the "wronged" employee just happens to have the same last name as the officer at Labor! Just be careful - and best of luck to you!
Makira: I know what you are saying and I agree with some of your statements..but USVI may be a "right to work" state..but has nothing to do with the "employment-at-will statue.....right-to-work applies to union-employee relations..where a union must represent an non-union member although not a member of the union. If this was a union plant...its a whole new ballgame. All depends if the company is stronger than the union..some employees pay union dues for NOTHING...because they can only give what the company agrees to.If they strike..they can be replaced..PERMANENTLY. But again...be it a right to work company or not..the same applies,,got to adhere to the union contract..which calls for even more DOCUMENTATION.
Am sorrry your sister lost..but if she has been in the HR field long..she will get over it..and learn from the experience.Wrongful Discharge is the way to attack Employment -at-Will..but again..the key is DOCUMENTATION AND CONSISTANCY IN APPLICATION OF COMPANY POLICY/UNION CONTRACT..TELL SIS TO HANG IN THERE..YOU DONT HAVE TO BE WRONG TO GET DONE IN BY THE EEOC.ALL IN HOW THE INCIDENT IS PERCEIVED BY THE THIRD PARTY..
Sorry- "right to work" wasn't the correct term . . . more like "right to get paid and maybe work if you feel like it"-- My sister didn't lose the case - just a lot of time having to deal with the whole mess. Sounds like you know your stuff so hopefully you can come on down and share your knowledge and experience: why don't you go to work FOR the labor dept!?!?! Whatever you do when you get here.. I wish you the best.