Last week I had a book-signing at T.H. Palm & Company, Playa Linda Beach Resort, at the heart of Palm Beach. Between chatting with store clients and watching the action on the street, I was quite content to spend two hours of chill.
(Island Life is available for sale at T.H. Palm & Company and at local book stores)
I looked across the street. The sidewalk in front of La Hacienda Mall was packed, with kiosks, obstructing the entrance to the elegant Alex & Annie boutique, and hiding the fine dining establishments which pay exorbitant rents to that complex.
Rent at the heart of Palm Beach cannot be cheap.
I asked. The rent for the kiosks, collected by the owner of La Hacidenda Mall, is about Awg 2,000 a month. Per shack. And mind you, all shacks are located on government land, on the public sidewalk.
Between looking at the mess across the street, and admiring the gorgeous shopping environment I was in, with nicely merchandised displays, and well-trained staffer, I had the pleasure to talk to some of our visitors, and conduct a random search.
I am usually a productive person, and it doesn’t often happen that I have time for random searches.
So, I plugged “El Bohiho Holding” into my phone, Yellow Pages said it was an Arts & Crafts Goods & Supplies company. But I know for a fact that it owns the real estate, across the street from the lovely T.H. Palm & Company, presenting this hard-working, tax paying store, with a great deal of unfair competition, selling 3 for $10 tee shirts, which the tourists then carry around in single use plastic bags. Don’t we have a ban of those??
My phone told me that in 2018, ninety-four, 94, containers of goods were received by that company from Columbia, exported as ceramic & plastic articles, glass and glassware, wood & leather items, handbags and similar article of animal guts. (?!)
My phone just confirmed that in addition to renting the 11 kiosks on government land, and pocketing the rent, the goods sold in the kiosks are ALL provided by the landlord, who happens to have been a DIP employee, yes, that is a fulltime government employee, for many years. He has owned the complex forever, and also owns and supplies the kiosks… which of course explains why every one of them carries the same exact merchandise.
Wow, some people are shameless. Playing the cards, they were dealt, to their full advantage.
Imagine? An opportunist DIP employee, assigns himself a prime piece of real estate on Palm Beach, I am sure he did not stop there, rumor has it, he has many more fine places caught in his claws.
I called to follow up on a rumor I heard the kiosks will be dispensed with. Yes, was the answer, 9 were approved on a lottery basis. Two must go. I laughed.
And the opportunistic DIP employee? No, he is no longer employed, the MinInfra thanked him for his “contributions” – though I don’t think he had much time to work for the country in view of the many business dealings on his plate – and showed him the door.
The following day I saw MinInfra continues to sweep: Three other DIP employees were temporarily suspended. One of them, for a second time, he already won his case in court in the first round, and seems like a good guy.