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@Work: Bentick's Liquors and Grocery

May 13, 2005 – Bentick's Liquors and Grocery has been part of the downtown Christiansted neighborhood where it stands for 25 years, and Feron Bentick plans to keep the family-run business there for at least another 25.
The store on Company Street, near the intersection of Princess Street, was one of three stores owned by the late Bruning Bentick.
Feron, Bruning Bentick's son, left St. Croix for about a dozen years to live in Massachusetts, but came back to run the store when his father died in July 2002. He says he looks at his return to St. Croix as a bit of a sacrifice to keep the business going, but also as a challenge that he enjoys.
He hopes one day to follow in his father's footsteps and open another store. His father also owned and operated Alexander Theater on Sunday Market Square.
The store on Company Street sells groceries, liquor, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. A customer in April won $10,000 on a scratch ticket and Bentick says the store has seen a boost in business since then.
Most of the customers are regulars, and some will pick up the newspaper and a beer and hang out in front of the store for a stretch. A Bentick family member, who works the store in the mornings but asked not be identified, said, "We don't have any bums here. They are retirees who want to drink a beer and chit chat for a spell."
The store also attracts tourists who want to catch the authentic flavor of Christiansted. As athletes were preparing for the recent triathlon, it was not unusual to see bikes propped up against the storefront as bikers dressed in racing gear enjoyed a cool juice with the locals.
The owners are casual about store hours, especially holidays, when one notices that the store is not open early. Open seven days a week, things generally start up around 6 a.m., and some days the place keeps going as late as 2 a.m. As often as not, an evening drive through Christiansted will reveal more action at Bentick's than the downtown clubs.
Bentick has help from a cousin who opens the store most mornings. He also has a couple of part-time employees, but is generally at the store. "It's me that does most of it. I run the place," he says.
Days when there are events in Christiansted the store is open and gets another boost in business as people wander away from central downtown in search of a bargain beverage or snack.
He sees the renovation of Times Square just a block away from him as a positive step, but one that won't have much effect for maybe five years. He pointed out that when the Square was not open, traffic was forced by his store at a slow pace, and that was good for business.
Talking to Bentick, one gets the feeling that not only has the store been a part of Christiansted's recent history, it will be part of its future.

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