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Charlotte Amalie
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@Work: Caravan Gallery

March 3, 2005 – As its name implies, Caravan Gallery at Mongoose Junction carries wares from around the world.
"I've always been a traveler and brought back interesting and beautiful things everyone admired," owner Radha Speer said.
And since she always had an interest in shopping, the store was a natural fit.
Speer, 57, is still traveling to far flung places like Bali and Turkey to shop for just the right items for Caravan Gallery.
The store, located on the shopping center's upper level, is chock full with jewelry, wood carvings, African artifacts and masks, and Chinese antiques.
Caravan Gallery is the only store that sells the St. John hook bracelet.
"Kenny Chesney bought one from us along with a triple knot bracelet," she said, referring to the country singer who frequently visits St. John.
And, coming soon, Virgin Islands and Caribbean vintage collectibles amassed by St. John resident Eleanor Gibney.
Speer said that Gibney has accumulated a horde of old coins, postcards and memorabilia that will be for sale in the next few weeks at Caravan Gallery.
"It includes a Caneel Bay scarf from the '50s," Speer said.
Speer said the store carries 1,000 pairs of earrings, many of them in silver. She said one reason she opened the store in 1991 was because she couldn't find nice silver jewelry.
Many of the pieces feature amber, larimar and turquoise as well as rare and unusual stones.
Caravan Gallery is often one busy place. However, her staff of five full-timers and one part-timer gives Speer the time to keep office affairs in order.
While most of her staff has been with her for several years, Speer said that her biggest challenge is finding the right person for the job. She always hopes that person will find housing and decide to remain on St. John so she doesn’t have to go through the entire hiring process again.
"There's always the employee who swore to remain on St. John for five years, but meets this guy and they go sailing," Speer said.
This southern California native arrived on St. John from the Napa Valley in California in 1983. Long-time friend Lynn Thorsen was driving her car from California to Florida so she could ship it to St. John, and Speer went along for the ride.
Speer did a little of this and some of that to keep body and soul together, got married to St. John architect Glen Speer, and helped out with his business until she opened Caravan Gallery.
"At one point I made desserts for Henry at Mongoose Junction Restaurant," she said, mentioning a restaurant that closed several years ago.
While Speer's days are busy, especially during the busy winter season, she still finds time to go kayaking.
"And I still like to travel," she said.

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