I am a business owner on St. Croix and I agree with passing the savings on to customers on island. I have never charged more than Manufacturer's Suggested List Price in the almost four years I have been in business.
Customers can buy the dive items that they saw in their local shops without paying the taxes to their local city or state, and we the V.I. win as I pay gross receipts taxes every month. I usually give a discount for locals and/or multi-item purchases. The consumer saves in taxes, and I get to eat the gross receipts taxes imposed by the V.I. in addition to the excise and duty charges.
I have tried using Fed Ex and UPS to have my products sent here. As an example, I ordered 288 AA Cell batteries that we use for our rental lights, rental cameras, digital cameras (for taking pictures of our customers so that they can show their friends what a great time they are having from our "wet site" at www.stcroixscuba.com) and a few other items that we allow our customers to use on their dives.
I have been buying these batteries at a local discounter for a few months as I am all in favor of supporting as many local businesses as possible. I know about that, as I am one. I have an average price for these on island of $.69 each. I can buy them online at $.38 each. I called today and had 244 of these sent from this online distributor who told me that to have them shipped FedEx, UPS, or DHL I would be paying $50 per pound. If he sent them U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, he would charge me $30.90 for all 244 batteries. Guess which I chose?
I totally understand that all of us businesses on the island have to look at all of the alternatives. I will now reduce the price for the occasional customer who must have AA batteries and I will discount or give more freebies to the customer who uses our rental items that require these batteries because of what the shipping has not cost me.
I must amend this, in that Priority Mail is getting slower because of our lack of flights to St. Croix, and that is causing us other problems in managing inventory, but that is a different story. As a side note, I received a Priority Mail package on March 12 that was sent from New Jersey on Feb. 6 that I was charged for on a credit card as it left New Jersey. I was thus paying for these products prior to their arrival, with no chance to sell the items prior to receiving them.
I lived in Atlanta prior to moving here 12 years ago and the wonders of Wal-mart and Target are great. I would give my eye teeth to buy at their retail prices and get a 50 percent markup here on the island. Everyone here would go nuts for the price of film and batteries as an example that I would have in inventory for their immediate needs at a price that they would consider low.
In conclusion, we just need to get FedEx and UPS to recognize us as a part of the United States, as they do Puerto Rico, and get more planes to land on St. Croix bringing our mail in a timely manner and get the great fuel prices we have for those carriers to return to the mainland.
Ultimate Bluewater Adventures
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to [email protected].