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Planning to Relocate to the Islands - Need Advice

 
doh50h
(@doh50h)
New Member

Hello All,

I have been visting the USVI for several years now, and am finally going to take the leap. I currently live in the Northeast (U.S.), and don't think I can take many more winters. I've begun looking at real estate (primarily on St. Thomas) and plan to relocate within the next 12 months.

My question is (and I would really appreciate any input from locals), what types of businesses or services do you feel are lacking on the Islands? I have several successful small businesses on the mainland, and would like to continue operating a small business once I relocate to the Islands. I would sincerely appreciate honest input from those of you who live on the Islands, as you are the bread-and-butter for the businesses on the Islands.

Also, I've noticed that most of the businesses on the Islands close at 5 PM. Does anyone feel that a business would fare better if it were to reamin open past the customary 5 PM? Say, maybe until 9PM?

Thanks in advance for any assistance!

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Topic starter Posted : July 15, 2009 5:38 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

Your best bet is to come down for a longish visit 3-4 weeks. Check things out, talk to people.

For me, I would never come here with a plan of starting a business right away. I would plan on living here for a year or two first.

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Posted : July 15, 2009 7:41 pm
doh50h
(@doh50h)
New Member

Thanks. I have been down there for semi-extended periods (2-3 weeks). I try to pick everyone's brain while I'm there (taxi drivers, restaurant employees, etc.). I figured I'd try local message boards to get as much info as I possibly can.

Thanks again!

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Topic starter Posted : July 15, 2009 9:10 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

If you use the handy search function on this site you will find this issue has been discussed many times over the years. Folks seem to be in favor of a Taco Bell, a Krispy Kreme, and a Jiffy Lube. I would never own a business here, but your tolerance for pain may exceed mine.

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Posted : July 15, 2009 9:18 pm
Betty
(@Betty)
Trusted Member

Live here a year at least before you risk loosing all your money. Its like Vegas here. The odd are extremely not in your favor. Pick something you think you might like to do and work there as an employee first.

Just about everything here is different from stateside, the cost, the labor, the labor, the labor, and the customers. If you're just thinking about doing something like IT, general contractor, baby sittting, etc, where you yourself are the product its not as much of a risk. Good Luck.

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Posted : July 15, 2009 10:00 pm
doh50h
(@doh50h)
New Member

Thanks dntw. I apologize for not using the search feature (I get ahead of myself sometimes). Anyway, I'm interested mainly in what you, the locals, would like to see come to the Islands. In almost every city I've ever vistied, I've heard the locals say "gee, I really wish we had a _______ here." That's kind of what I'm looking at. I don't really want to rely on cruise ships, tourists, etc. for business. With my businesses on the mainland, I've always tried to satisfy a need and improve the community, not just turn a fast buck. I will continue to search archived posts on this topic, but if anyone has a specific response or idea to the above question, please post.

Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : July 15, 2009 10:20 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

I think the advice to concentrate on a service rather than a retail business is cogent. Much easier to differentiate yourself and quicker too. The problem will be maintaining your level of service and adapting to the island lifestyle and expectations after being here awhile.
The less employees you have to manage, the less inventory you have to import and maintain, the less tourist dependent [ as you mentioned] and the more personal energy based your business plan is - the more control you will have of expenses and quality. And if you truly like what you are doing on a daily basis the much higher likelihood of success and personal satisfaction.

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Posted : July 15, 2009 11:02 pm
DUN
 DUN
(@DUN)
Trusted Member

I think the advice to concentrate on a service rather than a retail business is cogent. Much easier to differentiate yourself and quicker too. The problem will be maintaining your level of service and adapting to the island lifestyle and expectations after being here awhile.
The less employees you have to manage, the less inventory you have to import and maintain, the less tourist dependent [ as you mentioned] and the more personal energy based your business plan is - the more control you will have of expenses and quality. And if you truly like what you are doing on a daily basis the much higher likelihood of success and personal satisfaction.

Hey Exit, you& I don`t agree much, but well said, & I agree!

The more you do yourself,the more control over quality & customer service you have!
If you have many employees,it becomes more of their quality/service,not yours!

Of course,this means many working hours & much less potential for high income(unfortunately).
But,it`s a living!

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Posted : July 15, 2009 11:16 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

The onerous labor laws may also limit the number of employees you will want to adopt.;)

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Posted : July 16, 2009 12:23 pm
doh50h
(@doh50h)
New Member

Thank you all so much for your input and advice. I'm getting the impression that I should focus on a service-related business as opposed to a retail operation. I've talked to many people, and most agree that dealing with employees is even more difficult on the Islands than it is on the mainland.

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Topic starter Posted : July 16, 2009 1:39 pm
Betty
(@Betty)
Trusted Member

I never though I would say this before I moved to the islands, but employees have too much power here. Many small business owners are often afraid of their employees sueing them or reporting them to the dept of labor. Its just so hard to fire them here. You see it reflected in the awful customer service, poor work ethic and something I've never encountered across the board until I moved here but drinking on the job.

So if you do hire employee, do your homework, most here don't do a back ground check or call previous employers, etc.. So in a way they bring it own themselves.

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Posted : July 16, 2009 2:38 pm
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