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@Work: Big Fish, Little Fish and Fish Bowl

Feb. 2, 2007 — Big Fish, Little Fish and Fish Bowl may sound like a kids' card game, but in fact it's a trio of stores at Cocoloba Shopping Center in Coral Bay, St. John
Christie Dove, 32, bought Big Fish in May 2005, then opened Little Fish in November 2005 and Fish Bowl in December 2006.
"I'm finally getting paid to shop," she says. "It's so much fun."
As a guide, Dove says, she buys things she likes, as well as items her mother, her grandmother or her cousins would like. It's a self-serving way to shop for her store so that, in the unlikely event she goes out of business, she won't be stuck with things she doesn't want around.
Dove often gets help at the store from her mother, Cathy Dove. And when grandmother Ruthie Thompson, 85, comes down for a month in the spring, she's right there helping out as well.
"She becomes the boss," Dove says. Thompson, a consummate bargain hunter, taught Dove how to shop.
While the Cocoloba shopping center lies well out of the Cruz Bay shopping hub, Dove says more and more people are finding their way to Coral Bay.
"It's becoming a destination," she says.
Big Fish carries adult tropical clothing, including the made-in-Coral Bay Sloop Jones line, T-shirts, hats, books and more. Little Fish focuses on children's clothing, beach toys, stuffed animals and other items visitors want to take home for the small fry on their shopping list.
Fish Bowl showcases artwork and crafts made by many St. John-based artists, including Dove's father, Bill Dove.
Dove first came to St. John because her parents had moved here in 1995 to open Chili Billy's Restaurant. They've moved on to other St. John endeavors — Dove also partners with her father in Book-It VI, a vacation-villa booking agency. While Book-It has a Cruz Bay office, she often keeps up with the businesses while working at her stores across the island. Dove also works as a Realtor out of the Tropical Properties office in Cruz Bay.
Born in Illinois, Dove grew up in Warren, Penn. She went off to Penn State University at the Erie and University Park campuses. While in school, she worked summers for Celebrity Cruises, designing and developing children's programs. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in special education, she worked several years in the on-board children's programs for Celebrity and Cunard cruise lines.
Dove had parked her belongings with her parents on St. John, so when she was ready to move ashore, St. John proved a natural. The stores provide her fun, but when asked what she'd like to do in 10 years, Dove says she hopes she will have added a husband and kids to her already-busy life.
It's hard for goal-oriented people to meet each other on St. John, Dove says, but she hasn't given up hope.
"I'd rather be on my own than with the wrong person," she says.
Dove's website is still under construction, but she says it will eventually become a shopping site. Call the stores at 715-0101.
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