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Charlotte Amalie
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@Work: Into the Sea

March 3, 2005 – Souvenir shopping can involve a lot of back scratchers, shot glasses and spoons emblazoned with a gold "St. Thomas" and a little stamp that shows where it's made. (Here's a hint: these are usually not locally made products). But there's a little gem of a store in Royal Dane Mall that sells a different class of souvenirs, everything from Christmas ornaments to pottery platters, all created by local artisans.
A year and a half ago, armed with some good intentions and a lot of luck, Beau Drumright opened Into the Sea, a store designed to appeal to both locals and guests of the island.
"I started with a credit card and $100 in my pocket, and the trust of a few artists," he says.
Drumright's original vision for Into the Sea, while showcasing local artists, was to have an on-site workspace for his own creations. That dream was pushed aside during the store's first year as Beau waded through the world of owning a small business.
"I've learned more in this last year and a half than I have in my whole life."
Now at the ripe old age of 27, Drumright has become a seasoned businessman while also nurturing his creative side. He is carving out a workspace for himself behind the counter, where he will be making custom jewelry using recycled leather, embellished with shells and natural beads.
"I'm very eclectic. I love making jewelry and I love working with natural things," says Drumright. "I like jewelry because it's always been there and it's great expressionism."
In the near future Drumright will be expanding the handmade jewelry section. "There are a lot of artists making different kinds of jewelry," says Beau, who would like to see more pieces "made locally and unique island jewelry you won't see on Main Street."
Other signature pieces from the store are made by Lynn Berry, a third-generation St. Thomas potter who specializes in Raku. Alton Evans is a jewelry maker who uses leather and shells in his work. "Alton is really popular for people who don't want gold, silver and gems," says Drumright. Donna Roes is a St. Croix potter. Mary Mercer does soaps, incense, and a goat's milk lotion that just flies off the shelf.
There are also handbags, prints and objects from the Majo Bay glass recycling project. All told there are about 40 artists represented in the store, and countless objects d'art to choose from.
"Some of the artists now come to me," says Drumright. "I found a lot of new artists last summer just by tracking them down. I'm really happy with the collection of artists right now."
There's a theme in the store. Drumright tries to get all the artists to make a few pieces with mocko jumbies, so you'll find wind chimes, pottery pieces, dolls, stained glass and jewelry that portray the uniquely Caribbean spirits. There's even one named after the proprietor himself, "Bo Jumbie."
Drumright tries to have something to fit anyone's budget. At Into the Sea, shoppers can find something for $3 or $1,000. "I'm trying to provide people with a good shopping experience," he says.
Into the Sea is located at Royal Dane Mall and is open Monday through Saturday. The store is also one of the few in the V.I. that has a full Web site. You can visit the site and browse through the stores collection at Visit the store online as well, at www.intothesea.net.

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