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@ Work – Coral Bay Market

Dan CarlsenWhen he was laid off from his job as a cook in June 2009, St. John resident Dan Carlsen needed a way to make some money. He started selling his unneeded belongings on eBay, and soon he was in business selling other people’s excess items under the Coral Bay Market name.

"It’s been a great learning curve," he said.

Business is growing, Carlsen said, and he now spends his days at his computer dealing with his Coral Bay Market business. It involves writing descriptions of the items for sale, taking a photo for many of his customers, packaging the goods and taking them to the post office. Some customers have large items or are located close to the post office so they do it themselves.

Carlsen sells just about everything.

"Books, computer parts, stuff from stores that isn’t selling," he said, ticking off a long list that includes many music CDs.

Carlsen charges 15 percent for his efforts. He said eBay and Pay Pal get another 15 percent so customers should count on paying 30 percent of the selling price.

He also owns a knife and tool sharpening business. Folks with dull knives can find Carlsen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at Connections and the third Sunday of the month at Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant.

Carlsen, 66 and well-known on St. John as Dan’s Pants because he previously sold brightly-pattered chef’s pants, came to this point after a lifetime spent in a wide variety of jobs.

After getting out of the U.S. Army, he returned to his native Chicago to get a degree in fine arts from the American Academy of Fine Arts. In 1969, he moved to St. Thomas as a member of the Peace Corps. He soon began to work as a Peace Corps trainer before moving on to manager of Sparky’s Waterfront Saloon in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

"And I owned a pool hall above Trader Dan’s bar," he said, speaking about a long-closed Charlotte Amalie establishment.

Over the years, he worked building villas at what is now Leverick Bay Resort on Virgin Gorda, worked as a cook at Barnacle Bill’s Restaurant, ran pig roasts with the late Chickie Morciglio, and was a chef on a large charter boat.

He moved to St. John around 1992, where he worked as a chef at several restaurants.

"The restaurants were always having a problem with sharpening their knives," he said.

When Tom Lemm, who had run the island’s only knife-sharpening business, left the island, Carlsen bought equipment and filled the niche. At one point he had a shop in Cruz Bay but said that didn’t work out well because only restaurants and frugal folks get their equipment sharpened. He said most contractors just throw out things like saw blades rather than sharpen them.

Carlsen accomplishes all this, including knife-sharpening calls to St. John restaurants, without the benefit of a car because he doesn’t drive. He hitchhikes everywhere, even to the post office with boxes to mail. He said he likes his mode of transportation because he gets to meet lots of people.

As for his spare time, Carlsen, who lives alone, said he doesn’t have any.

"I spend 60 hours a week on eBay," he said.

Carlsen can be reached by phone at 777-6615 or by e-mail at dac1943@hotmail.com.

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