The Easy Way to Shop

Island Bargains revolutionizes the Caribbean shopping experience.

By Kathy Borsuk

When I moved to Providenciales nearly 24 years ago, there were no IGA supermarkets, hardware stores, pharmacies, clothing or electronics outlets, or even a bookshop. Only the basics were available—usually on Wednesdays when the freight boat came in—and we learned to make do or do without.

As a result, for most Islanders and residents, a trip off-island meant only one thing: SHOPPING. I, like others, became an expert in packing. Empty suitcases on departure returned to the TCI stuffed to bursting. I remember that my “most-needed” items were contact lens solution, tampons, bras, and books.

Internet shopping is made easier with the help of Island Bargains services.

Internet shopping is made easier with the help of Island Bargains services.

There’s no doubt that the range of items available on-island has expanded dramatically. But there are still many things that simply can’t be kept in stock in a small island nation. And with the advent of Internet shopping, there continues to be a need for a shopping/shipping/delivery service to streamline the process of getting goods from Point A to TCI. That’s where Island Bargains comes in.

Started by Richard Chilton in 2009, Island Bargains has grown to become the #1 online shopping and shipping service in the Caribbean. It operates in 43 countries, including the Turks & Caicos Islands, which is currently its fourth largest market, with over 5,500 customers and more signing up every day!

Island Bargains’ services are wide-ranging. Once you register (it’s free and easy), just order your goods from any US merchant or on-line supplier and have the items delivered to Island Bargains’ 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Staff will handle all the freight documentation and customs clearance, and ship your goods to any island, safely and securely. Island Bargains’ all inclusive rates start at just $10. Simply collect your packages at your local agent (Air & Sea Agency) when they arrive on island or choose home delivery. Whether you are shipping a pair of shoes or an entire household, Island Bargains has got you covered!

Island Bargains warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale handles over 1,500 packages per day.

Island Bargains warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale handles over 1,500 packages per day.

Their shipping model to Providenciales is based on flat-rate shipping, figured according to cubic size (ocean freight) or by weight (air freight). On top of weekly ocean shipments, Island Bargains also offers two air option services: 1–2 days (Priority) or 1 day (Expedited).

In addition to shopping with major online retailers, you can order directly from the Island Bargains website, where you will find a wide variety of name-brand groceries, beverages, health and beauty aids, cleaning and household goods, home, baby, and pet items, and office supplies, all at great prices. Your order is carefully packaged in sturdy, double-wall boxes and will arrive in TCI within the week. This is all included in your one low price.  To make your grocery shopping experience quick and easy, Island Bargains accepts international credit cards, wire transfers, PayPal, and even cash payments on-island.

Especially useful to Caribbean customers who may not have the time or means to travel abroad, or a US credit card, is the personal shopping service. You make the request and for a nominal fee, Island Bargains will source and procure whatever you need. You then pay Island Bargains using your TCI credit/debit card, wire transfer, or cash.

Other valuable services include pickup and delivery, hazmat certification, warehouse storage, container loading, and commercial consolidation in South Florida (perfect for hotels, restaurants and event planners). Island Bargains also can crate fragile or bulky items such as motorcycles, TVs, and glass, and prepare the often-complicated shipping documents for cars, boats, and even jet skis and golf carts!

Richard Chilton is the energetic, charismatic driving force behind Island Bargains. After spending time in the Caribbean, he saw the need for a reliable shopping/shipping service. Using skills from a family history in retailing, it started with a simple list of groceries as he traveled country to country to recruit local agents. The business snowballed as on-line shopping became popular, with Island Bargains serving as the missing link for most Caribbean shoppers.

Today, Island Bargains services 50,000 customers throughout the Caribbean and handles 1,500 packages on an average day (and counting). Richard estimates that in TCI, about half his customers are commercial businesses and half are personal shoppers. Besides a typical turn-around time of one week (or faster if required), a major attraction is that because all packages are consolidated for full container shipping, customers are charged one low landed cost when goods arrive on island, as low as $10 for sea freight and $25 for air freight, plus your local duties at the time of delivery.

In TCI, the Island Bargains agent is Air & Sea Agency, currently building a new, large warehouse on Leeward Highway. As in all of the countries Richard works with, the agents are experienced, reputable customs brokers for whom customer service is key.

Customers in TCI include some of the major resorts, developers, and event planners, who appreciate the company’s ability to “make appear” the unusual and hard-to-find. Richard recalls sourcing “Virginia jumbo organic peanuts” for a discerning guest on Parrot Cay; picking up a dog and ushering it through customs red tape; delivering 250 live Maine lobsters and 30 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to a client in Surinam; and, in St. Vincent, loading an entire chopped-up semi truck in a container.

When packages are delivered to the sprawling Ft. Lauderdale warehouse, Island Bargain staff opens each one, checking for damage and items that are illegal to import, such as knifes and pornography. Goods are re-sealed and carefully loaded into a container to be forwarded to every island, every week.

Richard is a firm believer in lots of legwork on the ground. He is often seen on the streets of any Caribbean island passing out flyers or cavorting with a local mascot such as Bermuda’s “Cube Man.” It’s all part of building up the buzz. He anticipates opening in 20 more markets by the end of the year.

Are you ready to have Island Bargains help with your Christmas shopping? Visit www.islandbargains.com to sign up! You’ll soon receive emails featuring monthly specials you won’t want to miss.

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