Written by: Mary Mac
I do not consider myself a high-end shopping snob. However, I will not lie – while growing up in New York City, I did, indeed, find my share of enjoyment browsing through the racks of gorgeous clothing at Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor, and sometimes even the almighty Saks Fifth Avenue. Though admittedly, when visiting Saks, I would mostly gravitate to the very back, very hidden away section of any given department – you know, where the reduced displays are located. (I’m not sure that the word sale even exists in the Saks Fifth Avenue vocabulary – far too uncouth, I imagine. Reduced is just so much more civilized, dahling!)
Note that “browse” is the key word here. It was actually a rare occurrence that I was able to justify spending my hard-earned funds on the pricey, though much-admired, goods at Bloomies, L and T, or Saks. Macy’s (who held great sales almost weekly) was more my go-to department store and Target was the one I relied upon for most of my basic needs. But that all changed the day I chose to move to the British Virgin Islands, which has done the unthinkable and turned this loyal Target gal into an enthusiastic Kmart shopper.
Did I really just say KMART, you ask? Indeed, I initially found myself raising my eyebrows and wrinkling my nose too at the thought of relying on the lowly Kmart for all of my shopping needs – that place is no Target! But beggars can’t be choosers. By law, there is no franchising allowed in the British Virgin Islands, which means – tragically – that there isn’t a single Starbucks (the injustice!), nor a KFC, nor a McDonald’s, nor a Wendy’s, nor a Subway, etc., etc., etc. You will not find a Target (OH NO!!), or Kohl’s, or Ross, or Walgreens either. The list of lack goes on and on.
There isn’t even a Kmart in the BVI. Therefore, I must be grateful that I at least have relatively easy access to one in the neighboring US Virgin Islands. I honestly never thought I would see the day that I would be so RIDICULOUSLY excited when a friend says that he/she is hopping on a ferry for the day to St. Thomas and my immediate reaction is, “Really??? Ooooh, lucky you! Are you gonna go to Kmart?!”
In the BVI, we do have a local “department store” or two that sells decent cosmetics and perfumes, as well as plenty of small clothing and shoe stores (although the selection is limited and, frankly, the clothing racks are filled with an abundance of polyester, of which I am allergic to – it makes my skin crawl and my stomach turn). We also have one very nice boutique in the center of town filled with fashionable dressy dresses (for those exceedingly rare island occasions when a dressy dress is actually needed) – but again, the selection is limited, and the prices are more often than not VERY OPR (Out of my Price Range!). So when I need to get a few pairs of cargo shorts, a few pairs of flip flops, some shampoo and conditioner, or my favorite mascara, I get all jumpy and crazy at the thought that a friend might be willing to pick up these necessities at the “Big K” on St. Thomas for me.
Suffice it to say, island life has transformed me into a reluctant Kmart devotee. I have actually shunned friends who have told me after the fact that they visited St. Thomas and did some shopping at the “Big K” without letting me know in advance (HOW DARE THEY!).
In other thrilling news, rock life has just gotten a major retail upgrade: there is now a Walgreen’s that just opened up on St. Thomas! I have yet to visit, but I am planning a trip for the sole purpose of shopping at the new store and have already started making my list. Oh, how island life has changed me!
Anyone care to join me? I’m so excited, I can hardly wait!