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Christmas in the City, a boom for BVI small businesses

Small businesses see boon in sales during BVI's Christmas in the City

Christmas in the City, a two-day annual event in the British Virgin Islands, was an economic boon to 40 small businesses by time it ended Saturday night.
The event may have found a new home on Shoreway Drive, with British Virgin Islands residents flocking to the location.

“To say the least, it has been an awesome event. Last night was good. Tonight, if you look around, the crowd is bigger by far,” City Manager Janice Brathwaite-Edwards, a member of the Small Businesses Association that hosts the event, told The Daily News.

“We had 35 booths last night, today we have 40.”

Brathwaite-Edwards said more people showed an interest compared to last year when the event was held at the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex.

She said she kept hearing “‘Ms. Jan, keep it on Shoreway Drive. This is like the best thing that could happen.’”

The event was a welcomed one for vendors after nearly two years of COVID-19 when most businesses were shut down and social distancing made it difficult to stage events like Christmas in the City.

Last year the territory also was reeling from a high number of COVID-19 cases.

“The vendors are saying ‘we’re willing to come out, we’re willing to take the chance and we’re doing good,’” she said. “So, it’s a positive on all sides.”

Donette Matthews of Books and Things said educational items were selling out as parents are interested in puzzles and hands-on activity and work books. She said when children are home from school, the hands-on books strike a balance with children who may spend a lot of time online.

“Those workbooks are very good and are selling well this year,” she noted.

Matthews also praised the new venue for Christmas in the City.

“Business is much better this year and I think it’s because of the location,” she said. “It’s surrounded by a lot of businesses and in terms of walking, it’s in the right area.”

Shereen McFarlane spotted a “My Little Pony” book when she walked by Books and Things. It’s a series that her 5-year-old daughter likes, although at the time she was more interested in a doll. They eventually returned.

“I saw other things I wanted here, and my daughter really likes to read,” McFarlane said. “When I don’t have time to do things with her, she says ‘Mom, I want to do something,’ so the more things I have at home that pushes her, it’s better.”

Tracy Christopher, owner of The Jewelry Box, said business was good with shoppers snapping up her custom-made sterling and silver pieces.

Cordella Duncan of Blushing Beauty also saw a difference in this year’s traffic.

“Last night was good and tonight is greater than last night,” she said noting that, surprisingly, lipsticks were among her top sellers. “We’re wearing masks now and everyone is now concerned about the lipstick rubbing off on the mask, but we have some great, beautiful mask-lipstick that withstands anything. We have an array of colors for all skin tones.”

In another area, Alicia Scatliffe-Cockburn of A&M Variety, was busy with children snapping up TikTok bags, hats, socks, backpacks and cross bags.

“Business has been good and as you see, I only have a few TikTok bags left,” she said.

Judith DeCastro of Judith’s Gifts and Crafts sells handmade crafts including nativity sets and stuffed toys for children. She also turns empty bottles into lights and makes jewelry, from bracelets and heart pendants to crocheted angels and crosses.

“Everything is made in Tortola,” she said. “Whenever you go looking for a gift, everything is made in another country and I thought, I’d try and do something that makes it easier for people if they want a gift made here. So, only two days a year, I sell them.”
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