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St. Thomas has long been known as one of the best shopping destinations in the Caribbean. With numerous shopping malls and catering markets for resorts and tourist cruises, in the bustling island capital – Charlotte Amalie, you can find just about anything you want at a great price. However, not all travelers are aware of the wealth of fabulous local produce available at St. Thomas. From folk arts and crafts to handcrafted food products and spices, there are plenty of ways to shop for the best products from St. Thomas can offer.

The best location to find Caribbean folk art and local produce is Native Arts and Crafts. Including the work of nearly 100 different locals throughout the year, Native Arts and Crafts is the largest shopping mall dedicated to local artisans in the Virgin Islands. Located near the tourist information office in central Charlotte Amalie, the cooperative allows locals to sell their artwork and handmade products directly to the public from the former colonial home of the United States.

One of the most popular booths in the cooperative belongs to Gwendolyn Harley, the artist behind the very popular series of hand-sewn dolls. Over the years, Harley kept track of adoption records and saw his historically minded dolls travel the world in the hands of tourists and collectors.

For those looking for unique food items, stopping by the Cheryl Miller booth will bring numerous award-winning flavors. In addition to the popular jams and jellies Miller handmade, five of her sauces – known as “Cheryl’s Taste of Paradise” – took home trophies from the National Fire Food Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can also find Miller products at the store he maintains in conjunction with his kitchen at Compass Point Marina.

One of the weirdest booths of Native arts and crafts belongs to Justin Todman, locally called The Man Broom. Using traditional Caribbean methods, the Broom Man weaves his palms in intricate patterns and attaches all the lengths of the handles to create brooms for every possible purpose. Todman brooms are also very popular with couples who are getting married in St. Thomas, supporting the African and Caribbean tradition of brides symbolically jumping over a broom to start a life together.

Art collectors will also want to visit the Silk Screen Gallery and Studio located in Tillet Gardens. For almost 50 years, Tillet Gardens has served as the home of St. Thomas’s vibrant arts community. The gallery is full of images and prints of the most talented islands with work available for all budgets and interests. Located on an old Danish farm, Tillet Gardens is also a great place to spend the afternoon, as the place has a great outdoor restaurant and occasional performances by local musicians.

Walking through the streets of the capital, you will also see several additional art galleries selling the work of local painters and sculptors. Outside the Tillet Gardens, you can find the best selection of artwork created in the Virgin Islands at Mango Tang. Like Tillet Gardens and Cooperative Indigenous Arts and Crafts, the work is available at Mango Tango and other galleries throughout Charlotte Amalie at affordable prices, with unique pieces for all tastes and budgets. Keep an eye out for artisans selling their artworks in small-town outdoor markets. Many talented individuals are sold directly to the public on a daily basis and everyone likes to share their stories with visitors.

St. Thomas is also one of the best locations in the Caribbean to find exotic spices. Like the well-known colonial-era Caribbean spice markets, today’s spice markets give visitors the opportunity to try and buy exotic flavors and gourmet products. You can find the best range of Caribbean spices in the Caribbean Market, an expanding empire that specializes in bulk spices and gourmet spices. Spices, teas and spices can also be found at Down Island Traders – a popular store in Charlotte Amalie that also stores homemade jewelry and crafts.

Like many other islands in the Caribbean, St. Thomas has many talented individuals who manually create distinctive products. Wherever you travel to St. Thomas, you will be able to find a piece of island to take with you. Most importantly, in most cases you won’t be able to find these special items anywhere else.

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Source by Justin Burch




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