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It’s a story you couldn’t dream up, dotted with obstacles that would make most retailers turn back. Many of them did. But not Mr. Doulatram Boolchand Nandwani, known fondly to us as “Dada.” His amazing odyssey is 90-plus years in the making, and began with the opening of the first Boolchand’s store in Curacao in 1930 by his father, Mr. Boolchand Pessoomal Nandwani. This single location supported his family in India for over 20 years before Dada arrived, and helped him to re-brand, expand and grow the business – to Venezuela, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Thomas and Aruba. As the next generation joined the business to support this expansion, and the fourth generation later followed, additional brands came under The Boolchand Group umbrella, and new businesses were opened in St. Kitts, Miami and Puerto Rico. Today, the Boolchand Group employs over 250 people, and operates 23 retail stores in 7 territories, a distribution business headquartered in the Curaçao Freezone, and an e-commerce website that will enhance our journey into the 21st century.
where he begins working for an Indian business, Tarachand Bhojram, as a salesman. He is quickly promoted to the position of manager, and eventually becomes a working partner in the firm.
The vision to open a business begins, originally with a business partner, Mr. Parsaram Narwani.
Oriental Art Palaces originates as an importer of fine goods from China and India. The original store sold oriental gift items including Ivory carvings, carved wooden tables and screens, brassware, embroidered table cloths from India and China, pure silk cloth and Japanese embroidered Kimonos.
The business was started by his father after a world-wide trip originating in Bombay on the Maluja Ship to France. Followed by another ship ride on the Queen Elizabeth from London to New York, through Kingston, Jamaica and finally to Curacao.
This dream is finally realized in 1969, just in time to facilitate recovery from a major disaster that year.
This same year, it also expands to Caracas, Venezuela, successfully opening a store under the Palacio Hindu brand name. In 1953, the original Caracas store is expanded into an adjacent space.
Primarily selling linen tablecloths and blouses. The original glass storefront was imported from Puerto Rico as that size was not available in St. Maarten at that time.
The store is called Taj Mahal, selling table cloths, jewelry, watches, liquor, tobacco, cigars and other tourist goods.
In 1972, this house would be demolished and a brand new, 5,000 square foot store would be opened selling electronics, cameras, jewelry, watches and linen.
Riots engulf Curacao's Punda district, burning the entire building at Heerenstraat 10 (the original Oriental Art Palace) and all of the store's goods. With no insurance, Maduro & Curiel's Bank gives their full support so Dada can rebuild. The Boolchand Group relocates to the recently complete three-story building at Heerenstraat 4B and establishes new operations in the Curacao Freezone.
Throughout the early 1970s, The Boolchand Group grows the portfolio of St. Michael stores in Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Aruba. Also in 1970, The Boolchand Group establishes operations in St. Thomas, selling tourist items and linens on the Waterfront, then relocating to 31 Main Street, where they begin to sell cameras and electronics as well.
In 1976, he would leave Caracas to join The Boolchand Group's St. Maarten operations.
After reopening, another fire the following year causes a second "restart", followed by a theft within the store. The first several years in St. Thomas are challenging with several restarts.
Nari Nandwani, Dada’s youngest son, becomes the last member of the 3rd generation to join the company when he arrives in St. Maarten to help run the St. Maarten business.
The Group quickly rolls out Bye-Bye stores in St. Thomas the same year, followed by St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire and finally Curacao.
D'Orlahn opens stores in Aruba, followed by stores in St. Maarten, Curacao, and St. Kitts over the years. D'Orlahn was established to grow the branded boutique business with key luxury retailers.
Boolchand's is granted the exclusive right to distribute Ecco shoes from Denmark in the Caribbean. It also opens a standalone Ecco store in Curaçao.
The following year, Ravee is transferred to Aruba to run the local operations. This marks the official transition from a 3rd generation family business to a 4th generation family business.
The Boolchand Group exits retail operations in Venezuela, focusing on the core island retail and wholesale business.
D’Orlahn is the first Indian-owned store to be opened in St. Kitts. The Boolchand Group begins its relationship with Pandora Jewelry, starting in St. Maarten and expanding to St. Thomas, Curacao and Aruba.
Navin Nandwani, son of Nari and grandson of Dada, joins the family business in St. Maarten.
Launching the first Pandora concept store in the Caribbean in St. Maarten (the 30th Pandora retail concept store in the global network, which grew to over 700 by 2012).
In 2011, a second Concept Store in St. Thomas is opened as well as a store in Curacao.
Opening a store in Miami. The Boolchand Group now operates 6 shop-in-shops and 6 concept Pandora Jewelry stores.
Into new markets in the United States and the Caribbean. The Boolchand Group, also, takes its 30-year relationship with Apple to a new level with the opening of a standalone Apple store in Curaçao. This is the beginning of the franchise relationship as an Apple Specialist.
In the US Virgin Islands and open a New Havaianas Kiosk in the Paseo Herencia Mall, Aruba.
The Havaianas distribution expands to include the entirety of the Southern and Eastern Caribbean. Finally, Karan Nandwani, son of Nari and grandson of Dada, becomes the last member of the 4th generation to join the family company.
All of these are second concept stores for the respective locations.
The Boolchand Group opens Pandora Sambil on Curaçao, the second concept store for the island of Curaçao
They also expand the launch of omnichannel across all locations via boolchand.com to include electronics and cameras.