Gift World wraps up after quarter century | THE DAILY HERALD

Juggie Amarnaney removes the “Gift World” sign from its now former location next to Pasanggrahan Royal Guesthouse.

PHILIPSBURG–It is the end of an era for a little shop in the heart of Philipsburg. Gift World, a fixture on Front Street for a quarter century, has locked its doors for good and mothballed its island-branded souvenirs, many handmade locally and others hand-painted by shop owner Anita.

It was an emotional moment ending this venture of both business and passion for co-owners Anita and Jagdish “Juggie” Amarnaney when they turned the lock on their store door for the last time, took down their signage and returned the keys to the landlord.

Like many shop owners in St. Maarten’s capital, the Amarnaneys were faced with non-existent shoppers and absent revenue since the start the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in March. Their empty coffers did not exempt them from the requirement of rent and other expenses. The hard decision to close had to be made and made soon.

“I didn’t think I would retire so soon. This is so strange for me. I love my shop. I loved talking to my customers and seeing the street busy,” said Anita, who together with her staff, have seen Gift World capture The Daily Herald’s “Best Of” gift shop badge for several years. The shop was also frequented by the newspaper’s staff, in pre-“Best Of” days. The newspaper had its operation on the first floor of the same building as the ground floor shop.

“This is hard for all of us. We can only wait and hope to see things get better for other islands,” said Juggie, as Jagdish is affectionately known.

The Amarnaneys have not given up on their island homes. Juggie will continue with Juggie’s Place, dubbed the smallest bar in the world, in the alley across from Little Switzerland on Front Street.

More shops on the Dutch side are shutting down, in particular those that are heavily dependent on cruise and stayover visitors, both groups now a rarity.

Rental prices, and landlords who refuse to budge on the monthly amounts, are also reasons cited by business owners in general for the mushrooming number of now-defunct businesses.

Source: The Daily Herald