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Thinking of taking the plunge

 
Gmen2352
(@Gmen2352)
New Member

Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum but have gone back about 60 pages of topics, (read only the topics that I felt interested me). My friend and I are considering moving down to the islands, most likely either STT or STX. I've read about the pmv, which I think is a good idea. I'm 31 and have my own industrial crating company, my friend is 36 and is a plant manager of a machine shop. Were both single, no kids (no restraints). Would be shipping our cars down, looking for a furnished apartment. Don't have a household to ship down but I will be building crates myself for the vehicles and personal belongs which will only take one crate per person. If it doesn't fit inside one crate, its not coming. We are also business partners on a few rentals by Union College in Schenectady, NY and rent them to the students which gives us about $1500/month profit. We are looking to open a business when we arrive and have had some ideas on what type, but need more time to do market research on what either island is lacking and could use. I have read about the crime that seems to be very prominent on this message board, but there are plenty of streets in my city I would not wander down at night which is why some people call Schenectady, Little NY. We plan sell whatever we are not bringing with us including myself selling my current business, either as one whole piece, or selling it off piece by piece, tool by tool. We will have the funds to move there and setup a business. I will continue to go back and read through more of the older topics but wanted to get an idea of the posters on this message board would like to see, what type of "store" to open. Our first thoughts would be a wine store on perhaps STX? I know everyone would like to see major changes but unfortunately I'm not a politician and cant do anything about wapa. Just two guys looking to open a small business and please nothing that deals with food, unless maybe what I did read earlier, a taco truck 🙂 Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : January 18, 2014 12:04 am
mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
Trusted Member

I really hope you spend some time on either Island before selling off everything you own including a business unless it's not profitable. A really GOOD coffee shop would be a welcomed addition, you could also add a few wines in the mix as well, but spirits flow like water on both islands. If either of you are handy, there is always a need for Handymen. Island life isn't for everyone and most don't last 5 years. So think long and hard about your plans. But if nothing else, enjoy the adventure, it's a wild ride.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 1:00 am
Gmen2352
(@Gmen2352)
New Member

I am def taking precautions with even just the thought of relocating to an island. I'm selling my business one way or another, I've taken it as far as I want to but there is still room to expand it for the right person. I'm not one to jump directly into something and hope everything works out, I need a concrete base to land on. I wish I could stuff a back pack, throw a 1k in my back pocket and fly down to an island but I need a little more direction than that :). I will def be spending time on the islands before making a decision and looking into the coffee setup, thanks for the idea!

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Topic starter Posted : January 18, 2014 4:21 am
meowruff
(@meowruff)
Advanced Member

Taco Truck! I love it!

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Posted : January 18, 2014 10:06 am
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

You really need to think this through.....you are NOT moving to Kansas!

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Posted : January 18, 2014 10:42 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

Sttnhas more nightlife than Stx in my opinion Both of you are young and would probably enjoy that more. I heard that the Virgin Islands has the third highest unemployment of any us soil. And the fourth highest murder rate of the Caribbean. Keep the unemployment number in mind when you decide to open a business

Went to dinner last night at 5:30 left at 6:30. We were the only ones dinning in

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Posted : January 18, 2014 12:09 pm
Native Son
(@Native_Son)
Advanced Member

Some of the things I can think of (STX)

A really good coffee shop (like someone already mentioned). It should be located mid-island. People who don't live up east drink coffee too.

A really good, reliable, honest auto repair shop. The roads are horrible.

Someone who can sell and install solar panels for a reasonable price and also maintain them...our utility rates are outrageous.

A trustworthy business that does home deliveries of groceries and prescriptions for seniors. The grocery stores don't deliver.

Someone to open a music/comedy club that caters to jazz musicians and jazz listeners, with a nice jazz lounge atmosphere for adults. They can have open mic nights for aspiring local comedians. Right now most of the places that offer live music won't hire you unless you play country western...with some notable exceptions, of course. This place should have the stage as its focal point...music and comedy, and a nice bar and some nice cocktail waitresses. You can get some finger food, but the lounge would be about having a good time listening to people playing actual instruments and enjoying drinks and conversation with your friends.

We don't need any more fast food joints. How about starting a farm, food is never going to go out of style.

Taxi drivers who actually drive a taxi, and not a bus...and go anywhere you want to go, not just the main road.

A good advertising/promotional company to get the word out about local establishments that people never hear about and never visit, like the amazing cooking that happens at The Greenside Grill with prime everything flown in daily. People need to be encouraged to enjoy the entire island, not just sections of it.

Someone to open a charm school for young women and a young men and teach them how to act civilized in polite company. Either that or stop pushing tourism.

I don't know what restaurant the poster ate at where there was nobody from 5:30 to 6:30, but most native people here don't go out to eat before 7:00 pm...I play music regularly and I usually have a full house by 7:30.

I can probably think of more...if I do I'll add them.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 1:12 pm
mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
Trusted Member

If you have the right combination and willing to work, you could make it work in the Islands. The problem with most new businesses in the islands that don't pan out is something that really isn't needed or the owners aren't willing to put the work in and only moved to the islands to retire on active duty. I second the Taco truck, but would change it to a Fish taco or fish sandwhich truck. Also the biggest thing to remember is, you have a limited clientel on islands. So you have to cater to them.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 1:14 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Just remember how expensive gas ($4.489 right now and usually $4.589 for Regular which is cheapest price on STT at a couple of gas stations, much more $$ at others) and how high our electricity costs are when making your plans.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 1:21 pm
rosesisland
(@rosesisland)
Trusted Member

I live on STX and would love to see a 10-minute oil changing place run like they do in the states! Housing is way less on STX right now compared to STT, whether you are renting or buying. I'd suggest renting one full year, at first, to really get the feel as to where you want to live on the island you choose. You can rent very nice places here now at lowest prices I've ever seen! But, that also will tell you what our market looks like, and it isn't good right now. Good luck!

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Posted : January 18, 2014 2:02 pm
Gmen2352
(@Gmen2352)
New Member

Solar panels could work. I do business with a company based out of Spain which has a warehouse near me who produces solar panels. They have their entire roof filled with them and not only do they pay no electrical bill but they actually sell power back to the grid. Plus if the utility bills are that bad down there I'm sure solar panels would significantly improve the value of a property.

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Topic starter Posted : January 18, 2014 2:55 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

There are companies here that install solar panels (both STX & STT, probably STJ as well) plus you have to indulge WAPA with a permitting process. Some friends have had this process take forever (whether it's being done by installation company or the homeowner) and be costly so maybe someone else on the forum can give their experiences. For others, it hasn't been too bad.
Try to do as much research as you can so there is a better chance for starting and maintaining a successfully operation.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 3:50 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

I am surprised that no one has suggested you come down and work in a business of some kind before jumping in and starting your own in the USVI -- it would give you a much better insight into what is needed here and considerably lessen the frustration you will encounter trying to start a business, licensing, inspections etc. - You might find a niche you would have never seen w/o living here a while - you might save a ton of $ if you decide the island isn't for you or even is just the wrong island -- just as it is usually recommended that people rent for a period before they buy real estate, coming down and working for some time would seem like a good idea.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 4:21 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

You will probably never be able to do taxi's. You would probably never get a medallion I did like native sons suggestion on charm school. That did make me laugh

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Posted : January 18, 2014 8:25 pm
JulieKay
(@JulieKay)
Trusted Member

I am surprised that no one has suggested you come down and work in a business of some kind before jumping in and starting your own in the USVI -- it would give you a much better insight into what is needed here and considerably lessen the frustration you will encounter trying to start a business, licensing, inspections etc. - You might find a niche you would have never seen w/o living here a while - you might save a ton of $ if you decide the island isn't for you or even is just the wrong island -- just as it is usually recommended that people rent for a period before they buy real estate, coming down and working for some time would seem like a good idea.

This. I know a number of people who have lost significant amounts of money (including us) to business decisions in the USVI.

A perfect example is there used to have a neat coffee shop on STX called Mocha Jumbies. They simply could not afford their WAPA bills and stay in business. They shut down last year, which is sad, their coffee and food was great!

I have several friends who have been in the restaurant and bar biz on STX - only one is still open. The ones who failed did so because they underestimated the challenges of the island based upon their stateside experiences.

And that's just the food and bev industry - our losses were in real estate development. I know folks who have had service industry businesses that have now failed too. This is not saying all businesses fail! But there are many ins and outs to learn before hanging up a sign.

If you can work for 6 - 12 months on the island before sinking your personal funds into investing in a business, I heartily suggest you do so.

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Posted : January 18, 2014 8:36 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

I am surprised that no one has suggested you come down and work in a business of some kind before jumping in and starting your own in the USVI -- it would give you a much better insight into what is needed here and considerably lessen the frustration you will encounter trying to start a business, licensing, inspections etc.

Absolutely. This is really a no-brainer. Finding a niche, setting up a business and running that business is vastly different and infinitely more challenging here than probably anywhere else under the US flag and to even attempt it within your first few years here is pretty much a recipe for failure. Good luck and may all your dreams come to fruition!

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Posted : January 19, 2014 1:09 pm
cholulazen
(@cholulazen)
Active Member

"A wine store on STX..."

Sorry, I don't think that's a good idea. I believe the STX vibe is a lot better but you really have to think of your foot traffic. I'd rather see a wine and cheese specialty shop open on STT that can not only get a good local following (which is generally wealthier than STX), but:
1. Make deals with all the resorts (Marriott, Ritz, Bluebeard's, etc.), provide gift baskets, etc.
2. Perhaps get cruise ship passenger traffic (leaps and bounds above any STX cruise ship traffic).
3. Appeal to Yacht Haven Grande which is packed right now with yachts and plenty of crew. A huge part of your business could be provisions for the yachts or catering to the crew that often have down time and deep pockets.

Off the top of my head, I'd say the biggest retail competitor would be Gourmet Gallery in both Havensight and Crown Bay. They don't provide good customer service at all, though, and there's definitely an entry in the market for someone who is knowledgeable and will put their heart and soul into the biz. Often times it's said that Gourmet Gallery, despite their decent sized wine collection, "doesn't even know what they have," Not only in stock/inventory/recommendations but pricing, too. They're all over the place. Note that I said "retail", there are plenty of wine distributors here that I don't have knowledge of their potential services outside of providing retailers with product.

In addition to the red tape with opening a business- don't forget your labor market here. Really tough to find honest, hard-working, people. I'm sure employees are a pain everywhere but they seem extra special here 🙂

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Posted : January 19, 2014 5:12 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

All good ideas if things improve. Right now existing
Businesses can't make it. Heard another
Hovensa rumor, buyers looking.

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Posted : January 19, 2014 5:31 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

Dixie. I heard a rumor about that the other day too

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Posted : January 19, 2014 7:44 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

Let's hope!!!

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Posted : January 19, 2014 7:53 pm
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