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@Work: Nest and Company

Sept. 4, 2006 – As its name implies, Nest and Company helps folks make their houses into homes.
Missie Hensel opened her store on the second floor of the Marketplace shopping center store nearly two years ago, after she discovered (while on vacation) that St. John had a shortage of stores that carried household and decorative items for residents. The store also has a slew of items tourists love.
"People are really happy I'm here," she said.
Since Nest and Company opened, Hensel's developed a following of local folks that shop for a lengthy list of goods. Let's start with the numerous types of tableware in colors of the sea, napkin sets that match or coordinate, soy candles, colorful soaps, potpourri sets, Japanese lanterns and much, much more.
Then there are the yoga outfits, lingerie and men's boxer shorts – all in tropical colors.
And let's not forget the greeting cards.
If you bring Hensel a photo, she'll have it enclosed in a wood frame surrounded by a quote you like. She said this makes a nice wedding or anniversary gift.
Hensel said she's also expanding her selection of baby clothes because St. John residents hold lots of baby showers.
As for the visitors, Hensel said they like to take home items like the small shell-shaped dishes made of aquamarine-glazed ceramic.
The store's stock reflects Hensel's attraction to the sea.
"It's pretty much everything I like," she said.
She also remodeled the store to suit her style, installing beadboard and wooden beams to give it a cottage feel.
Hensel came to retail after 11 years as a sales representative for a greeting card and gift company. But fed up with the cold winters in her native Maine, she decided to head south after six years of visiting St. John.
"I'd been to a lot of trade shows and had a lot of good ideas," she said.
She said she's faced some challenges, including sticker shock when it came to shipping costs.
Hensel said she has to pay shipping three times – to the consolidator in Miami, to the shipper who moves her goods from Miami to St. Thomas, and to the company that brings her items over to St. John.
Hensel said it's also expensive to keep her store stocked with fresh items.
"Locals want to see new things when they come in," she said.
The slower summer season has also taken some getting used to. However, Hensel thinks traffic will increase once Chelsea Drug Center makes the move from the shopping center's first floor near Starfish Market to the second floor.
And then there are the long hours on the job. Hensel, who was heading out for a week in Maine, said she's worked the store single-handedly since she opened. That means six days a week at her store.
For the summer, she's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday only, but she plans to open Saturdays once the season starts.
Call 715-2522 for more information.

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