The “Made in the USVI” pop-up shop opened on Friday in downtown Charlotte Amalie, revealing a sneak peek of the items that local Virgin Islanders have to offer.
The pop-up shop operates as a result of collaboration between the VI Council on the Arts and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority’s Enterprise Zone Commission.
“The purpose of the pop-up shop is to give our artists and artisans an opportunity to learn the business and to be able to earn money from their craft and get some exposure,” said Tasida Kelch. Kelch is the Executive Director for the VI Council on the Arts.
The Made in the USVI shop is now operating in its fourth year. It opens seasonally throughout the year to offer an opportunity for locals to retail their items. The shop will remain open until January 3, 2022, and then reopen again in April.
Nadine Marchena Kean is the managing director for the VIEDA Enterprise Zone Commission. She says that “The reason why we do this is because we are trying to help small businesses in this territory grow. Part of their growth is exposure, but also part is about being financially responsible. So being prepared to be out here and to do it, having the supply and knowing what your market is.”
When asked why the store is not open throughout the year, Kean said, “VICA and the Enterprise Zone started collaborating, and we did a test run the first year, and we ran from November to May, and we found that the people that shop in this store are Virgin Islanders, people of the territory and people who are from the territory.”
Kean noted that tourists make up about five percent of the individuals who shop in the store, and though locals provide the most revenue to the store, they only shop during key times in the year.
“People of the territory shop in seasons,” said Kean. “They don’t shop on a continual basis. And so, we found that they shop during Carnival and Christmas time. And so, to have a store open is not realistic nor is it financially sound to have a shop open when we have costs involved on a constant basis.”
The petite store is arranged into sections, allowing customers a chance to browse the colorful array of items easily. The store is itemized according to its spa, home, books, foods, tees, paintings, and jewelry categories. “We have a little bit of everything,” said Kelch.
Scented candles, cookbooks on local dishes, tamarind stew, hot pepper sauce, ornaments, brooms, magnets, and handmade coffee mills are some of the items locals have to offer in the store. All items offered for sale went through an intense screening process as well.
“We are looking for the best of the best. When you see something in here, it’s because they have been screened,” said Kean.
The store is located at 5070 Norre Gade in the Francois Building across from
the Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church and Fort Christian in downtown Charlotte
Amalie. To learn more about the “Made in the USVI” Pop-Up Shops, contact Kean at 340-714-1700.