That’s a mailbox rental, activity booking, and phone service business with locations in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. The bulletin board is also the closet thing to the Classified Ads in the newspaper. For $3, people looking for a job or leaving the island and therefore selling furniture can put up a card with the particulars.
Lately, though, the board is filling with long term rental offerings; rooms, houses and apartments. One islander says she’s never seen so many. She estimates as many as 30 are on the board right now.
Now, in a place where tourism is the only business, housing is always a problem. Jobs don’t pay a heck of a lot, and housing is expensive, and so people settle for what they can find or for what they can pay. Or they double- and triple-up.
Now, the market has gotten soft. The cards are filling the wall. Basic economics suggests a couple possible reasons. First, high season is ending and folks who came down for the winter are heading back home, giving up their apartments. Second, businesses are cutting back staff as business gets slower.
But this islander we talked with has been through a lot of seasons on St. John. High season ends every year, of course. But she’s never seen so much available housing. Is St. John losing population?