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@Work: Calabash Boom Mini Mart

Feb. 24, 2005 – Calabash Boom Mini Mart is a family affair. Mom Martha Matthias, 45, is behind the counter seven days a week. Dad Dave Matthias, 44, pops in from time to time while making the rounds on his water delivery business, and son David, 12, helps out when he gets a break from his studies at Julius E. Sprauve School.
Located along Route 107, with a nice view of Coral Bay from the front steps, the mini mart provides a shopping alternative for folks who don't want to head into Coral Bay proper or even further into Cruz Bay.
Martha Matthias was the technology teacher at Pine Peace School, now the St. John School on Gifft Hill, and her husband was working in the V.I. National Park's maintenance division when the chance to buy the mini mart arose.
The mini mart started out as Jason's by the Sea, then became James by the Sea. It was closed for about 1 ½ years before Martha and Dave Matthias bought it in August 2003.
"We saw an opportunity," Martha Matthias said.
She said it was also a chance to do something for a community that needed access to grocery shopping.
Business is good thanks to a boom in the area and a selection of foods that includes more than you'd expect from a small store at the nether reaches of St. John.
Gourmet coffee, tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, and Celestial Seasonings tea mingle on the shelves with canned soup, cake mixes, bars of soap and big baking potatoes. Martha Matthias said since the visitors renting villas in the area want smaller sizes of items, she often repackages items she buys in bulk into smaller amounts. This enables her to keep the price down.
"And our overhead is less. We're not paying exorbitant rent," she said, ticking off reasons why the prices are reasonable.
Dave Matthias said the store has become popular with charter boat captains. He said some day sail trips depart from the beach across the street from the store.
And folks stop by for their morning coffee. Martha Matthias said they often use the store's seaside picnic table to gab with their friends while enjoying their coffee and the beautiful view.
The store is also putting together welcome baskets filled with starter supplies for villa managers to leave for their guests.
Fresh vegetables arrive every few days. And the store carries tomatoes home-grown in Coral Bay by Adin Kauffman. In fact, several people stopped by during a reporter's visit specifically to buy those well-known tomatoes.
And within a week, Calabash Boom Mini Mart's deli will reopen. It will carry basics like meat loaf with gravy and homemade potato salad along with made-by-Martha hummus, tabouli and other Greek fare.
Martha Matthias is no stranger to Greek cooking. She and fellow Pine Peace School teacher Val Prakas cooked for Greek Night at the Inn at Tamarind Court, a tradition that Prakas continues without her friend.
Martha Matthias for several years owned a small restaurant in Coral Bay called Coral Bay Café.
"It's fun to cook again for everybody," she said.
Calabash Boom Mini Mart is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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