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USVI needs a stateside grocery store chain  

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Matt T
(@Matt_T)
Advanced Member

On the heels of the radio shack thread and talking about Walmart maybe one day coming to the USVI, I wanted to discuss what it would take to get a stateside grocery store chain down here.

The Island Crossing shopping center on STX seems like the perfect place and I would imagine one could be added to the Home Depot shopping complex on STT as well.

When I lived in Hawaii, Safeway was there and the price of groceries was very reasonable compared to here and we are talking about 3 times the distance to ship. Plus they always had the typical stateside 2 for 1 deals and coupons and such. To top it off, the selection was outstanding and the fruits and produce were very good as well.

Foodland was another chain that I think is only based in Hawaii but they were price competitive with Safeway because they had to be. Plus they had a deli counter with about 10 different kinds of Poke which was amazing along with octopus salad and other delicacies...yum!

Bottom line is the grocery stores in the USVI are pretty much monopolized by the Arab community. They can basically charge what they want and there is little competition since the other stores are also owned by Arabs. A stateside grocery store witch access to larger inventories and big suppliers would give them some serious competition and bring in different and better products for consumers.

This to me is one area that could significantly decrease the cost of living for every VI resident. If I were running for Governor, education, infrastructure, recycling, and attracting a large chain grocery store to setup shop in the VI would be my main platforms in that order of priority.

If our elected officials actually championed the causes of the people they represent, I would take this idea and try to see where it could go. But alas, we know how far that would get with our intellectually challenged and short sighted elected officials.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 11:54 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Trusted Member

There was talk a few years ago about a Save-A-Lot grocery store and a Burger King coming to the Island Crossing complex. But that was at a time when the developer was trying to convince the GVI to explore tax increment financing which is very common in other US jurisdictions. It could have been just been smoke and mirrors.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 12:11 pm
Beeski
(@Beeski)
Trusted Member

a) Hawaii has 14 times the population of the USVI
b) Hawaii doesn't have CBP harassing every shipment from the States
c) Pueblo is a Stateside grocery store chain (Chicago)
d) Cost-U-Less is a Stateside grocery store chain
e) Price Mart on STT is Stateside based
f) I would prefer the money to stay in the Territory, with locally owned firms who re-invest in our territory
g) The Arab community has been in the VI longer than you have.
h) The Arab store owners work/worked their asses off to get where they are today.
i) I am sick and tired of people blaming "the Arabs" for perceived shortcomings on our islands. My quality of life went up significantly when "the Arabs" took over the failed Schooner Bay Market (run into the ground by White Continentals) and put in a top quality small grocery store in Seaside Market (its on my way home). We bought a day bed a few weeks ago from an Arab owned store for less than we would have paid for it on West Elm's website.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 12:16 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Trusted Member

Good reply, Beeski...very true.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 12:23 pm
Beeski
(@Beeski)
Trusted Member

There was talk a few years ago about a Save-A-Lot grocery store and a Burger King coming to the Island Crossing complex. But that was at a time when the developer was trying to convince the GVI to explore tax increment financing which is very common in other US jurisdictions. It could have been just been smoke and mirrors.

The GVI/PFA did a TIF financing deal to pay for the Home Depot shopping center, called Island Crossing. Doesn't sound like its working out as planned (but it did put Caribe out of business):

https://stcroixsource.com/2017/06/01/v-i-public-finance-authority-hesitates-on-island-crossing-support/

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Posted : June 7, 2017 12:32 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Grand Union used to be on St Thomas before Marilyn. A stateside chain doesn't necessarily guarantee lower prices.

The best way to bring down prices is by not buying items that are ridiculously expensive. If you do buy them, don't complain. Nobody is forcing you to buy them.

Many things here are similar to some Stateside prices depending on where you shop.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 12:42 pm
Matt T
(@Matt_T)
Advanced Member

a) Hawaii has 14 times the population of the USVI
The island of Kauai where I lived has about 50,000 people which is simlar to STT and STX populations
b) Hawaii doesn't have CBP harassing every shipment from the States
Exclude grocery items from CBP jurisdiction
c) Pueblo is a Stateside grocery store chain (Chicago)
Do the Pueblos in Chicago look like third world grocery stores? Are they associated with the Chicago chain in any way? Methinks no
d) Cost-U-Less is a Stateside grocery store chain
This thread is not about bulk item shopping
e) Price Mart on STT is Stateside based
This thread is not about bulk item shopping
f) I would prefer the money to stay in the Territory, with locally owned firms who re-invest in our territory
Agreed, but providing affordable groceries to the entire population is beyond local ability. There will always be demand for hgih end or specialty markets and this where the local entities should focus their efforts.
g) The Arab community has been in the VI longer than you have.
What does this have to do with providing affordable groceries?
h) The Arab store owners work/worked their asses off to get where they are today.
i) I am sick and tired of people blaming "the Arabs" for perceived shortcomings on our islands. My quality of life went up significantly when "the Arabs" took over the failed Schooner Bay Market (run into the ground by White Continentals) and put in a top quality small grocery store in Seaside Market (its on my way home). We bought a day bed a few weeks ago from an Arab owned store for less than we would have paid for it on West Elm's website.

Apparently I hit a nerve? I never said anything bad about the Arabs, I enjoy their friendly greetings at the various stores I frequent and I applaud their business savvy.

If you are happy with the way things are then there is no point in continuing the discussion. I believe we as consumers are in the right to want to have clean, affordable, well stocked stores. This is not currently the case when speaking of the Pueblos and Plazas on STT and STX. It is achievable and all the roadblocks that have been mentioned so far can be overcome.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 1:26 pm
Matt T
(@Matt_T)
Advanced Member

Grand Union used to be on St Thomas before Marilyn. A stateside chain doesn't necessarily guarantee lower prices.

The best way to bring down prices is by not buying items that are ridiculously expensive. If you do buy them, don't complain. Nobody is forcing you to buy them.

Many things here are similar to some Stateside prices depending on where you shop.

Its not just lower prices I am looking for although I am quite certain they would be lower on many items. Its also selection and cleanliness. Our grocery stores are pretty disgusting. Their selection is pretty appalling. And the customer service is subpar.

I have commented on other threads how we strive to obtain as much locally as possible. From growing our own to being a long time member of the Sejah CSA.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 1:30 pm
islandjoan
(@islandjoan)
Trusted Member

One thing I noticed recently...everyone pay attention next time you are in Plaza East on STX.

You know those weird little gadgets and things that are hanging above eye level in the produce section, and then also on the ledges between the fruit and veggie bins?

You never really notice them, right? Well take notice next time. Some of them look like they have been sitting there for over 20 years, and are all dirty and dusty. YUCK!!!!

Have to pay attention next time in Plaza West to see if they are the same.

With all the $$$$$ they make off of us, they really should spiff up the stores a little. The signage scream 70s (fonts and colors) and are all dingy and dirty.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 2:00 pm
Oldie1
(@Oldie1)
Advanced Member

Beeski--I agree with you 100%

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Posted : June 7, 2017 2:34 pm
Matt T
(@Matt_T)
Advanced Member

Look at the cash registers, the conveyor belts you put your groceries on, the floors, the ceilings, etc. They are filthy. So yes, spending as much money as we all do in these stores, its fair to expect a nicer environment with cleanliness, customer service, and selection.

Food and water are two things required to sustain life. Garbage In = Garbage Out

The places I procure these life sustaining items from I want to know are doing their very best to provide a clean environment and are offering good products at good prices.

Beeski mentioned Seaside. They are doing a great job at the above and I am never bummed when I go in there. However, they are certainly catering to the upper class with their pricing (except for the hot and cold food takeout). Similarly, STT has Gourmet Gallery and Fruit Bowl. Both doing a good job but catering to those who have extra dollars to spend.

I am talking about a grocery store that your average lower to middle class Virgin Islander can afford shopping in. Just imaging if we had a Publix down here! Ever been in a PR Pueblo? It is light years different from here.

One simply needs to go to BVI and shop the Rite Way in Roadtown to see what's possible. I used to live on Tortola and the food prices and selection were bad unless you wnet to a specialty market- but that was 9 years ago. I was back over there last year and shopped at the same Rite Way in Roadtown that I used to. It was amazing! Has been completely remodeled inside, amazing produce, fruits, veggies, fish, meat, and dry good selection. And you know what, the pricing has now come down to being lower than USVI. I was flabbergasted.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 2:56 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

Seaside Market (tu) prices (td)

I got my Safeway rewards card last trip to Hawaii so all ready for that. But was certainly not impressed with Safeway.

Food Town is usually pretty spiffy and clean.

Ahem, Super Walmart. Kill two birds with one stone.

Latest issue of Consumer Reports has grocery store ratings. Walmart is on the bottom for service but prices and quality are good. I've been buying all my fresh fruit and vegies there stateside lately, better quality than the others nearby. Who'd a thunk it?

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Posted : June 7, 2017 3:13 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Trusted Member

I never really have had any issues with the cleanliness of the Plaza stores nor the selection. Maybe I've been here too long. I don't eat much anyway.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 3:13 pm
Gator's Mom
(@Gator's_Mom)
Trusted Member

Rite Way in Road Town is extraordinarily fabulous. I don't find prices less than in USVI - maybe comparable to Seaside. But wow is it upscale!

Tortola is soooo different than it was even 10 years ago pushed along by the growth in the luxury yacht charter business for sure. I sailed last January in the BVI and our 40 foot boat looked like a dinghy compared to the other boats around.

Not to change the subject - but I wonder what will happen to the charter businesses if/when a hurricane hits Tortola? Nanny Cay has only 200 spaces on the hard available for this hurricane season - to serve over 3,000 boats or so I've been told - stats are not documented but from coconut telegraph.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 3:28 pm
stxsailor
(@stxsailor)
Trusted Member

Many of the Moorings boats go to Virgin Gorda in a hurricane and tuck back in the sound.

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Posted : June 7, 2017 5:40 pm
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