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Cruz Bay
Saturday, December 9, 2023


Many downtown stores, primarily those on the waterfront, will be open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Feb. 22, the first time in many years that shops will regularly be open late.
The effort is being spearheaded by Jim Armour of Armour Enterprises, which owns Royal Dane Mall, and Frazier Drummond of Topa Equities. It comes as a response, in part, to the urging of local hotels.
"One of the biggest complaints we hear from the hotel industry is that it's difficult for their guests to shop downtown if they're out on diving trips or daylong beach excursions. Many want to head downtown after 5 p.m. to shop," Armour said Wednesday.
The experiment will run for eight consecutive weeks, and will involve all waterfront stores stretching from Harley Davidson east to the Tommy Hilfiger store.
"We will begin in a small way on the waterfront in areas we can control. It will include stores in International Plaza, Royal Dane Mall and Palm Passage, and Creque Alley," Armour said. "The Palm Passage parking lot will be a drop-off point."
Main Street gates will be locked, though Armour said, "We hope the idea spreads and others can join in," he said.
Additional lighting will brighten the waterfront, and the Police Department has vowed to beef up security, according to Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty.
"We're still in the planning stage," Carty said Wednesday. "We're in the process of determining how many stores will be open and where they are. As soon as we find that out, we'll see how we can deploy some additional manpower in strategic locations."
Armour said the fear of crime has been a major stumbling block to attracting visitors downtown after dark—"like in any other city"—and that private security guards will also be on duty.
"But I tell you, there's nothing that beats a policeman in uniform," he said.
Armour said police have been very cooperative, and that some V.I. senators have thrown their support behind the idea as well.
His biggest misconception, he said, was that "hotels didn't want people to come downtown. We just did not anticipate the wholehearted response we've gotten from the hotels."
Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said, "This is an added amenity to the USVI. We have heard from our guests that they're having something to do after 5 p.m. is the critical element we're missing.
"Our membership is 100 percent behind this effort."

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