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Re-supplying / re-stocking your business
Good Day future neighbors!
We will be moving to STT soon to open a retail business. Our concern is how do you business owners restock your businesses? What companies do you use to get your deliveries from the mainland? How long does it usually take? We are talking about bulk delivery, but not a whole container full. Any info would be helpful.
Thank you, and have a sunny day!8-)
Rick & Joyce
Currently in Richmond, Va
Most use Tropical, because they sail twice a week, but depending on your estimated volume and how quickly you need to re-stock, Crowley or some other shipper may have a better rate.
Shipments generally take no more than a week, but customs can sometimes delay release.
For re-stocking, many people use USPS if goods are coming from US. For international, many use UPS.
One frustrating issue is vendors sending you the wrong item, or less than perfect merchandise.
You will likely find that one of the most frustrating things about shipping to the VI is that its very difficult to work out who offers the best price to ship less than a container here. One really needs to be a math whiz to compare and the shippers know this and exploit it.
Over the past two years, Tropical and Crowley have bought out virtually all competitors and now control most of the shipping to the VI. I was just informed that CaribTrans no longer serves the VI either. VI Cargo on STX was bought out by Tropical a while back and now the service sucks just like Tropical.
To avoid paying the 5% duty, use the USPS as much as possible. The bureau of revenue might send you a letter from time to time requesting you volunteer to pay the 5% but have no way to enforce or compel you to pay and cannot open your packages to determine whats inside.
Rick & Joyce - I agree with Linda & OldTart. Sounds like you may be moving a bit fast. There are some other good threads on here about opening & running businesses here in the USVI. Someone recommended spending a year or so here first working for someone else; I think that is a good idea. Definitely spend time here and network first. Issues that are seamless in the states can take months here, like getting your business license & utility hookups. Good luck in your venture.
We use Oceanic Shipping & Consolidation out of Miami for pallet shipments to STT and then on to STJ via AA Supplies by truck. We have been approached by Tropical, but they couldn't show any cost savings. Everything else comes USPS Priority. Stateside vendors who are locked into UPS or FedEx or who won't go to the post office don't get our business. Paying UPS or FedEx charges is out of the question unless it's a very special situation.
I thought the primary difference between VI Cargo and Tropical was that VI Cargo cleared your shipment through Customs (and charge a fee for doing so) and with Tropical you had to clear your shipment yourself. I have used both and now use VI Cargo just because it is easier, but not cheaper. The last time I shipped via Tropical (probably late 2008), the Customs agent deemed the point of origin paperwork I had inadequate and I ended up having to go to the warehouse with a Tropical agent and look at each box to try to determine where it was manufactured. The shipment was kitchen appliances and a TV purchased from Brandsmart in Miami. It was not difficult and the warehouse and Customs were within walking distance of the Tropical office but it did take most of a day trying to get additional documentation from the manufacturer and their website without success before Customs agreed to just let us look at the boxes.