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BIG PLANET REOPENS AT AYH

Pretlow Majette never was the suit-and-tie kind of guy and he wasn't interested in working for anyone else. So, when all his friends graduated from college and were interviewing for jobs, Majette set out for the Virgin Islands armed with nothing but a dream.
"I had this idea in my head and I came down here and saw there was definitely a need for it," he said.
Ten years later he is preparing to open his fourth Big Planet store later this month in 1,500 square feet of space at American Yacht Harbor. It will be staffed by two full-time and one part-time employees.
Telling people he was a graduate student working on a research paper, Majette visited various retail stores to learn the ins and outs of the business and then used that information to write a business plan. He sold stock to friends and opened up shop on St. Thomas in 1990.
At 33, he is the owner and founder of the Big Planet. The retail store caters to those who love the great outdoors and sells top name-brand clothing such as Patagonia and Jams World. Two outlets are located in Puerto Rico and the third is preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary in St. John's Mongoose Junction.
This will be the second time the Big Planet has called American Yacht Harbor home. The store was housed there before Hurricane Marilyn hit.
"We closed in 1996 after Marilyn," Majettee said. "The landlord went bankrupt and everything was a nightmare but now we're back."
While most of his clientele are tourists, Majette hopes to tap into the local market with his new store by selling mountain bikes, surf boards, skate boards, volleyball nets and tennis equipment.
"We do have a local following but our business is really tourism," he said. "At this store I think there is a big enough market and no one else is selling the outdoor extreme sports we are selling."
Majette admits that some of his products are pricey.
"It's expensive to get stuff down here, tack on gross receipts, excise tax and it all adds up," he said.
However, he points out that his are top-of-the-line products with lifetime warranties. Because there is no sales tax in the Virgin Islands, customers end up paying roughly the same locally as they would on the U. S. mainland, he said.
Recent legislation introduced by Sen. Gregory Bennerson proposes an 8 percent sales tax in the territory to solve some of the government's financial woes. Many members of the business community have opposed the legislation, claiming it will wreak havoc by creating unemployment, shutting down businesses and harming tourism.
Majette is one of those who opposes the sales tax, particularly since the territory is marketed as America's "duty free" Paradise.
"Sales tax would put money in the government's pocket but it's going to hurt," he said. "Tack on 8 percent and it's really going to hurt the jewelry and liquor stores. I don't think it would hurt me as bad as others but overall it would hurt all of us."

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