What new business for STJ
For those of you familiar with St. John: What kind of new business or retail shop would likely be successful on the island? Assume around $30-$50,000 cash available to start-up. We're considering a move there within the next 18 months and want to keep busy by filling a need.
St. John, is the first choice, but if nothing is needed on STJ, how about on St. Thomas?
Yes, that doesn't sound like very much capital for this area. A lot of retail stores have closed this year on St John, and although who knows what the economic picture will be in 18 months, in retail you are most likely looking for tourist dollars to support your business. I won't speak for STT, but STJ locals live pretty simply and don't buy too much beyond the basics. This is a case where there's no substitute for in-person market research.
Also, on St. John, filling a need doesn't guarantee success in terms of operating in the black. The population is simply too small to support most business endeavors, which is why when the tourist dollars dry up, retail businesses struggle or fail entirely. Since last year, vacationers have still been coming to visit, reportedly in lesser numbers than in years past, but they haven't been spending very much on "stuff" while they're here.
Thanks. This forum is one of several good sources of this type of early-stage information. People who live in a location usually know what they're missing and what need isn't being provided for. Often times existing businesses or shops are of a poorer quality and hang on in a place only because no one else sharper has provided competition.
If you use the search feature provided on this site you will find several recent threads that address what kinds of services are missing on island. This question is asked frequently, and the answers don't change because the people who ask don't tend to follow through and move here to open the absent businesses.
I guess I'm just not that good at searching. Whatever I put in the search function, I'm brought back to my own message and question. So, if anyone could give me some suggestions of businesses, shops or services needed (or needed to be better) on STJ, I'd be grateful. Thank you.
Here are some recent threads:
From April 2009 - https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,106499,106518#msg-106518
A visit is already planned for hands-on investigation. But, this forum is too valuable to pass up for information until then. Don't mean to sound picky, but we don't have much interest in starting a franchise business. That kind of defeats the purpose of moving to such an authentic place as St. John. We would be bringing with us the characterless "anywhere USA-ness" of where we want to leave. I couldn't have that on my conscience.
So if any of you have any other ideas of what's needed on STJ, other than US franchises, I'm all ears (eyes). Thanks again.
Living here requires many of the same businesses as living anywhere, and the businesses mentioned in the threads can be adapted locally without the franchise. You may think STJ is "authentic", but the vast majority of its businesses are tourism related, and the vast majority of what they sell is produced outside these islands. Everyone wants to own a bar or restaurant or dive shop, and all of the existing ones are for sale for the right price, but oil change places and the like, however "characterless" they may be, are the sorts of businesses that are lacking, and thus have at least some chance of success here. I'm not sure why your "conscience" prohibits you from considering mundane businesses that meet local needs, but if that is the case, there are a number of gift shops and similar businesses for sale on STJ, and plenty of local real estate agents who would be happy to show them to you on your next visit.
Ok. Given our time frame, this may be giving away a good concept, but here goes:
On STJ and STT people regularly come in and leave often and it's so expensive to bring good quality furniture and household items to any island. How about a high quality used furniture and household goods consignment shop on STJ. An exchange that recycles good stuff for considerably less than it could be brought in new. Sales prices would be determined by consignment contract, tagged and reduced automatically every two weeks until sold. The place would be maintained in a top notch and the goods displayed in a manner equal to a high quality furniture/household goods showroom, but a prices way below what the items sold for new.
While there may be folks doing a little used item consignment here and there on both St John and St. Thomas, is anybody doing it in a serious way?
gcgem (or qcqem): Well, the Deli Grotto used to be the Grateful Deli in Red Hook Plaza. It was great buying fresh baked bread, breakfast on Saturdays, yummy muffins.... They moved.
independent man: What do you mean by "authentic?" When I go to St John, I do not feel I am in the Caribbean anymore. I am inundated with stateside servers who are too cool for school. There is very little Caribbean left on St John. IMHO.
In Red Hook, across the main road from the ferry terminal, is a strip mall with a consignment store for home furnishings. That shop has been around for a number of years, though I haven't been out to Red Hook for awhile and it is always possible she has gone out of business. I don't know of any such enterprise on STJ, and I don't know if there would be sufficient business on STJ to sustain such a business.
Hey EE - Home Again is the name I was looking for. Yes, I should get out there more often as I'm always slow to learn what places have come and gone. I was surprised to see on another thread that you have a new favorite restaurant. I remember when they were getting ready to open it (a couple of years ago now?) but I've never been.
By "authentic", I generally mean a sense of place. A place with a character like no other place (regardless whether or not you or I may like that character). A place that successfully resists the mass market consumerism of Everywhere USA. It seems to me fewer and fewer authentic places exist. Unfortunately, authentic many times come at the price of either remoteness or high costs or both. And of course, such things are always in the eye of the beholder.
There are some little consignment shops on STJ that do clothing and small household, but no one does furniture. I doubt that demand on St. John could support a for-profit enterprise like the one you suggest -- many rentals here come furnished, whereas the folks furnishing new private homes tend to be willing and able to pay to get it shipped from the states. STJ has very little commericially zoned property, which makes what is available very expensive. Also, there is always an equation in shopping on St. John: Is it worth it to pay more for an item and/or settle for not-quite-what-you-want, or is it worth the hassle of trying to find that thing in St. Thomas or have it shipped? Furniture is enough of an investment for most folks that it's worth a boat ride.