It hardly seems possible that one of my favourite souvenir and gift shops in the British Virgen Islands is 30 years old.
30 years ago, with the assistance of one employee, Robert, Susan and Gregory Gunter opened Sunny Caribbee Spice Company, along with the adjoining production and packaging area.
Some six years after opening, the store was moved to the historic Social Inn building on Old Main Street in Road Town.
H.R. Penn had renovated this classic West Indian style house and it was the perfect home for the shop.
By happy coincidence, the Social Inn building closely resembled the company logo, a West Indian house.
The Social Inn, the first guesthouse on Tortola, has enjoyed a long and storied history and the building in particular is vividly described by Martha Gellhorn (3rd wife of Ernest Hemingway) in her book, “Travelswith Myself and Another“.
The first product line consisted of a small collection of various seasonings, spices, bush and flavoured teas, sauces and craft items, all sourced from throughout the Caribbean. Today the store is a cornucopia of all that is special about the Sunny Caribbean and in particular the BVI.
They would then be grounded, blended and packaged in the stores production facility, with all hands on deck!
From the outset, the all-purpose seasoning Herb Pepper Blend, a mixture of specially grounded black pepper, onion, garlic, dill, sage and other ingredients, was and remains to this day the single most popular product.
In addition, two unique tisanes, West Indian Hangover Cure and its companion product, Arawak Love Potion, were introduced and have also remained a favourite.