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@Work: Paradise Warehouse

May 13, 2005 – Paradise Warehouse is crammed to the rafters with all sorts of household items at prices that won't give you sticker shock.
"We're able to sell the stuff for a lot less because we've cut out the middleman," owner Vanessa Campsey said.
She and her mother, Geri Campsey, import all the goods straight from Indonesia to the Coral Bay store that sits across Route 107 from Island Blues.
The store carries much of what a St. John resident might need for decorating an island home. The furniture is teak, there are pillows in all fabrics, shapes and sizes, and ottomans made of leather and sea grass.
"Ottomans are the big thing because you can store stuff in them," Campsey says, adding that tropical houses are often short of storage space.
The inventory doesn't stop there, however. Paradise Warehouse also carries bedspreads, rugs, curtains, soap dishes, lamps, lampshades, candles, candleholders, mahogany and sea grass trays, and much, much more.
"And tons of baskets," Campsey says, pointing to shelves filled with baskets perfect for storage.
She said she imports about two 40-foot containers each year, with one expected in about two months that will outfit the store with a whole new range of items.
Campsey, 33, comes from Long Island, where her family has two similar stores.
She and her husband, Larry Clarke, who is a fireman at the Coral Bay fire station, moved to St. John 13 years ago. They have a daughter, Paige, who is six years old.
Campsey says she originally moved to St. John to open her other store, Mumbo Jumbo, a souvenir and clothing store located at the Skinny Legs complex in the heart of Coral Bay.
Campsey said her biggest challenge comes in trying to be at both Mumbo Jumbo and Paradise Warehouse at the same time. And of course, when those big containers arrive, she's faced with the arduous task of unpacking them. "It takes a while to sort it all out," she said.
However, she also finds it difficult to find staff. Usually, a cadre of young people arrive every winter on St. John looking for retail work to pay the bills, Campsey said, but this year there was no such influx. She attributes the situation to St. John's difficult housing market. "There's no place for them to live," she said, adding that if they can find something, very high rents serve as a big deterrent.
She also noted that waitressing has more appeal to people who want to stay only for the winter because, with tips, they can make more money.
Campsey said that because she can't find people to hire, she now works seven days a week. Of course, since she lives just up the hill from her store, she has an easy commute.
Paradise Warehouse is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. The telephone number is 776-0060.

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