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eiplanner
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February 20, 2012 3:52 am  

Good Evening On-Islanders,

O.K. dumb question time. Please no negative replies, I'm really just curious about a few things and would like to see if anyone can help me get a clearer picture of what I am missing. These are questions over other items I have read on here that weren't on topic but I just happened to catch and made me curious.

1. It was said that there were no Thai restaurants. Does this mean no Chinese, Japanese, etc.? If not, why hasn't someone opened one? Is it strictly cost? Are there import problems? Are the local Health Authorities against it? Is the market too small? It just seems to me a small but good quality place would do well.

2. Why do I hear so much about the poor quality and quantity of fruits and vegetables? I thought that stuff was easy to grow in a tropical setting. Why aren't there more farmers? What are they doing with all the old farms from times past? Is land hard to get in terms of government requirements and not being a local? If one build a modest farm, would it get ransacked every night by starving locals?

3. What is the minimum wage in STT? Are there hiring requirements that cause employers to have a certain percentage of crucians? Are most all businesses managed by crucians?

I have lots more questions but don't want to take up the whole board. I will just ask over the course of a few weeks. I appreciate those involved on these message boards.


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Exit Zero
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February 20, 2012 5:43 am  

Since there is little if any natural fresh water on these islands all farming is a hard business - but there are a few farming communities on each island - the soil is also an issue and of course most of the land must be hand terraced because of the slope - I absolutely doubt the 'starving locals' will raid your farm - Bugs, birds and critters maybe - many of the farms from times past are now homesites - You can open any kind of restaurant you choose without government interference following normal regulations, fire, health etc.- there are quite a few Chinese food options on STT - and sushi places - and yes you are right, they seem to all do well.
I think the minimum wage is the same [or higher maybe] than the Federal guidelines - it is certainly and legally not lower. Some companies that participate in the EDC programs are required to hire a percentage of local residents - they do not have to be born here - otherwise there are no laws about hiring residents - I can't speak about ST Croix but on STT most businesses are managed by local residents many of whom were not born here - there are no unusual restrictive requirements about acquiring land imposed by the Government.
A short visit here to acquaint yourself with many of the island conditions would serve you well and give your questions a better focus and insight -- plus it is really nice weather here these days in Feb. compared to many other venues.


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ms411
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February 20, 2012 7:36 am  

There's an Asian restaurant on St Thomas that has Thai food on the menu. Restaurant is Chopstix in Vitraco Mall.

Plantations weren't big food growing businesses. They mostly produced sugar or other export crops. The islands with fresh water, Dominica, Grenada, etc grow more produce.


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speee1dy
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February 20, 2012 12:15 pm  

there are chinese restaurants on stx as well. there is also a local hydraponic place that sells tomatoes and lettuce. he gets robbed frequently. the produce that you buy at stores is crap because it has to come a long way to get here.


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stxem
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February 20, 2012 12:30 pm  

Just to chime in regarding STX-- there is a lot more farming on St Croix, and not just hydroponic. The Agricultural fair is currently occurring on STX and all the farming going on is very impressive.

STX also has a really good Thai restaurant, although it is more upscale than a takeaway would be.


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East Ender
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February 20, 2012 12:31 pm  

There are no dumb questions! On St Thomas:

1. There were no Thai restaurants until Chopstix opened. I haven't been there, but will certainly sacrifice myself soon.;) There is also Peking Tokyo in Red Hook. They try to do a bit too much, IMHO- Chinese, Japanese, sushi and Thai items. There is one great sushi restaurant and a couple of so-so ones. There are several Chinese fast food restaurants (steam table with take-out service). St Thomas is really a small town; population around 60,000. A large number of those probably don't do oriental, except the stuff that overlaps with local food- fried rice, fried chicken. Remember that basically everything has to be shipped in so with transportation costs, gross receipts tax, etc. things are costly.

2. There never were plantations on St Thomas, the soil didn't allow it. Water is also a big problem. There are farms on the west end with a variety of crops, but they can't produce enough or consistent product for restaurants. They have a market ?once a month. People do have fruit trees in their yards- banana, papaya, mango, genip. Again, these are mainly for personal consumption.

3. Crucians are people from St Croix. St Thomians are people from St Thomas.;) A lot of locals prefer government jobs to business, but there are plenty of hard-working business owners, too.


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SkysTheLimit
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February 20, 2012 12:40 pm  

there are chinese restaurants on stx as well. there is also a local hydraponic place that sells tomatoes and lettuce. he gets robbed frequently. the produce that you buy at stores is crap because it has to come a long way to get here.

Robbed frequently? Or burglarized? Are they stealing produce?


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OldTart
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February 20, 2012 12:42 pm  

The quality of shipped fruits and veggies can vary enormously. Although they travel in refrigerated containers, if the crates are left sitting for a while in hot temperatures before being either loaded at source or after being offloaded at destination, the quality of perishables is going to suffer. Perishables can be quickly shipped in by air but the additional cost is, of course, passed on to the consumer.

ExitZero pretty much explained about farming here. St Croix is an atoll, the land is flatter and the soil base much deeper than the volcanic base of St Thomas where topsoil quickly gives way to solid rock. But coping with lack of consistent rain and the invasion all sorts of critters and pests makes farming a formidable task and not cost effective.

Restaurants come and go more frequently than the Trade winds and that business is, too, not for the faint of heart for a myriad of reasons.


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eiplanner
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February 20, 2012 1:55 pm  

So any illusions of grandure that I may have had of coming down to STT and becoming a wealthy fruit farmer are now gone. (Laughing)

O.K. so why isn't there any fresh water? I know it's a volcanic island and therefore rock but I also see places like Hawaii that have overcome this problem. Is drilling not possible? Is it just too expensive? I've seen that a small area does have city water supplies. Where are they getting the fresh water? Does the government or municipalities not have any plans of extending this supply? It just seems very third world to me (sitting on my spoiled high horse in the middle of the states) that a basic necessity of life like water isn't taken care of. Makes me think of things like long lost tribes just discovered in the amazon forrest that have never been exposed to modern conveniences.

How do most of you like the cistern situation? Is it an adequate supply of water without having to be extremely conservative? How much do you spend on bottled water in a month? If not buying bottled water, how much per month does it cost to filter your own supply? How often have you experienced an empty cistern and at the same time a shortage in bottled water supply?

I've read that most people do not move there and find a house to live in but rather a condo or apartment. Do the condo and apt. people provide the water?


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STXBob
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February 20, 2012 2:07 pm  

St Croix is an atoll

No it's not. An atoll is ring-shaped. Compare and contrast:

Atoll:

St. Croix:


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STXBob
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February 20, 2012 2:30 pm  

How do most of you like the cistern situation? Is it an adequate supply of water without having to be extremely conservative? How much do you spend on bottled water in a month? If not buying bottled water, how much per month does it cost to filter your own supply? How often have you experienced an empty cistern and at the same time a shortage in bottled water supply?

I've read that most people do not move there and find a house to live in but rather a condo or apartment. Do the condo and apt. people provide the water?

Cisterns are generally more difficult than a well or city water, because cisterns are costly to build, and they periodically need cleaning and need leaks repaired, but we love cisterns as an alternative to no water at all.

Cisterns are adequate if rainfall meets or exceeds usage, but both factors are extremely variable. On STX, there is usually more rainfall on the west end than the east end. Visitors usually use more water than residents do. Large families usually use more water than small families do. Residents are usually conservative in their usage. Droughts sometimes happen. Big rainfalls sometimes happen. Cisterns are not only for collecting rainwater, but also for storing water deliveries, if you have to buy it in bulk from a water truck. The truckers get it from WAPA.

The last time I bought water in bulk in 2010, it was $350 for 5300 gallons of distilled water (6.6 cents per gallon). You can also buy well water, but you wouldn't want to drink that because it's brackish.

For condos and apartments complexes, the management handles the water supply. Some have their own reverse osmosis systems, using sea water or well water as the source. Some are connected to WAPA water.

STT had a major water shortage in December due to WAPA equipment failure. Some businesses were deeply affected.


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speee1dy
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February 20, 2012 3:09 pm  

skysthelimit, my apologies-burglarized is the appropriat wording here. yes they steal his tomatoes and what ever else they can steal.

from what i hear, which could be wrong?


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dntw8up
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February 20, 2012 3:46 pm  

Cisterns collect rain water. Water purchased to fill cisterns is desalinated sea water.


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OldTart
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February 20, 2012 4:55 pm  

STXBob, my humble apologies for having described St Croix's origins incorrectly. It's my understanding that it's not a volcanic island and the only other word I could come up with to explain the difference between it and St Thomas was atoll which I now realize was my bad. What is the correct word so I don't make the same mistake again?

As far as water is concerned, I've only run out of cistern water twice in over a quarter century and that was in the building which housed my restaurant. The roof was in terrible shape and, once it was properly sealed, I never had a problem thereafter. Conserving water becomes a way of life between "sailor showers" (water on to get wet, water off to soap up, water back on to rinse); low-flush toilets and the standby of, "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"); using dishwater on the plants; etc. etc.

A lot of people these days invest in costly UV filters but the old standby of throwing in a cup of bleach every month works fine and I've never known anyone to get sick from drinking cistern water although I've lived in many places where the water's taste (although tested potable by a certified lab) wasn't to my liking and then I'd drink bottled water. I've never heard of a bottled water shortage.

Potable water lines have been extended in the last couple of years to the East end of STT but the only people I know personally right now who've hooked up to the system are those who started off with a very small house and cistern and gradually expanded over the years to add on small apartments for extra income. The original cisterns can't handle the increased load so they hooked up to accommodate those times when the cistern runs dry and eliminate the necessity of ordering a truckload of water.

Hope that helps.


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Bombi
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OldTart
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February 20, 2012 5:33 pm  

I think STX was formed by an alluvial schist,

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/lib/CREWS/Cleo/St.%20Croix/salt_river180.pdf

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/lib/CREWS/Cleo/St.%20Croix/salt_river167.pdf/blockquote >

Thanks for the links - very interesting reading and I think I found the right terminology therein - "sedimentary island". That sounds a little more sophisticated than another description I read which described it as, "a plate that was pushed up"! 😀


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SunnyCaribe
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February 20, 2012 5:44 pm  

"Sedimentary uplift" is the term.


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eiplanner
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February 20, 2012 8:23 pm  

Great info on the water issues. So I gather for most that proper care and maintenance on your own cistern keeps you adequately supplied with water. In the condo/apt situation, do they meter the water supplied? Is there a utility cost to it? Are you still limited in how much you can use?

O.K. another business minded question. Apparel. I've read in many relocators stories that they have had a very hard time finding themselves clothes and wish they had brought more. Is this simply sour grapes or is there truth to it? Mens clothes and womens shoes were a couple specifics. Am I to take this as there are hardly any available or is it that what is available just doesn't fall with certain peoples tastes? Let's use me for an example. I like to wear knee length cargo type shorts. Something close to those in this picture:

Would these type of shorts be readily available there? Would there be a wide selection? Are average sizes frequently sold out?


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jbatl
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February 20, 2012 9:20 pm  

To me, I have never sought to buy clothing on island.The dress here is super casual, so even if you have a rip or hole in your shorts or a stain on your shirt, no one is bound to notice.


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speee1dy
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February 20, 2012 9:25 pm  

kmart sells that style of shorts


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Exit Zero
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February 20, 2012 10:10 pm  

Quite a few of the surf shops, sports stores and smaller retail clothing stores sell that style of shorts as well as Kmart - I commonly buy them at end of the summer sales during my Sept//Oct trip to the East Coast and always get some for Xmas presents from family - who I am sure find them deeply discounted after the summer season too.
many people order these types of apparel from LL Bean and other catalogs just like many people do on the mainland.
Dress is very casual in many circumstances here and yet there are some situations that very dressy and upscale casual or fashionable attire is expected.


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eiplanner
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February 20, 2012 10:17 pm  

That was another question I had. If clothes were so hard to come by (as was stated in a couple of the stories) why weren't people just ordering online? It didn't make much sense to me. But it did make me wonder if that was a viable business idea to sell clothes.


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eiplanner
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February 20, 2012 10:30 pm  

How about Scuba diving businesses? I did a search on the message boards and only found 3 threads that mentioned it. Do those guys seem to do well on island? Are there a lot of openings and shutdowns in that line of work?


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ms411
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February 20, 2012 10:43 pm  

A tiny percent of the residents post on this and any other forum, so you can't get a good idea of island living based on a few posts.

I think many of the people who complain about clothing selection are women. You posted a photo of men's shorts, so naturally men responded. Dressing is always easier for a man, which is why there are very few men's stores.

Most of the stores for women are "boutiques" so it's hard to find quality, casual or dress/casual clothing at different price points. A few people sell clothes from their home after doing buying trips in the States. Many people do buy online or from catalogs.

The cruise lines are always looking to add new excursions/activities. Many Caribbean islands offer some type of cooking tour, but there isn't one on STT. They used to offer photography tours, and I've seen people asking for them, but nobody's doing that right now that I know of.


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OldTart
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February 20, 2012 11:01 pm  

How about Scuba diving businesses? I did a search on the message boards and only found 3 threads that mentioned it. Do those guys seem to do well on island? Are there a lot of openings and shutdowns in that line of work?

There are several excellent and well established scuba operations on St Thomas and St John. They do hire, as seasonal employees come and go and they stay pretty busy all year round between their local customers and visitors. There's not a lot of turnover where the businesses are concerned and, as with any new business venture here, an established reputation takes a long time to get going. Someone without firm local knowledge would, I think, have a very hard time competing with the established professionals in this field.


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