April 30, 2004 – After 31 years at the same location, the Cosmopolitan clothing shop on the St. Thomas waterfront will close on Monday, done in by high rents and a dearth of parking in the downtown Charlotte Amalie shopping district, according to its owner.
"The problem with St. Thomas is that it's a five-months-a-year location with a high-rent structure 12 months of the year," owner Cary Tenenbaum said on Friday.
He said that local customers used to fill in the financial gap during the summer months, but these days they can't find anyplace downtown to park.
Additionally, he said, St. Thomas has hitched its star to the cruise-ship market, which doesn't attract customers as well-heeled as hotel guests typically are. Cruise passengers are less likely to shop at upscale stores such as Cosmopolitan, he said.
Renting prime retail space on St. Thomas costs many times what it does in mainland cities, he said. And the cost of insurance, given that Cosmopolitan is located on the waterfront and St. Thomas is in a hurricane zone, also is high.
The markup on clothing, unlike jewelry and souvenirs, is not high enough to keep his business profitable, he said.
Tenenbaum said his eight employees will be out of a job, "but all of them have excellent job offers."
Tenenbaum, 49, isn't totally closing the door on the retail business. He said that in a year or two he might reopen at a different location. "But I'm going to decompress for a while," he said. "It's about time I smelled the roses."
He said Cosmopolitan was started in Curaçao by his grandparents. He started working at the Charlotte Amalie store during summers while on school break and has been there full-time since 1980. "I've seen the same customers from the time I was a teen-ager," he said.
Tenenbaum said the shop space already has been rented to a new tenant. No one could be reached at Lockhart Companies, which he said owns the building, to find out who the new occupant will be, and he declined to disclose the information.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.