The Boolchand's Story

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.

1901
Mr. Boolchand sets sail
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.
1927
Mr. Boolchand leaves Panama to return to India
The vision to open a business begins, originally with a business partner, Mr. Parsaram Narwani
1930
The original Boolchand's store, at the time called Oriental Art Palace is opened in Curacao.
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.
1937
Mr. Boolchand's son, Chuhermal Nandwani, falls ill of kidney trouble and must leave Curacao for Japan for treatment. He ultimately returns to India
1947
Mr. Boolchand leaves Pakistan to Poona, only one month after India's independence day (August 15th).
1950
Doulatram Boolchand Nandwani ("Dada") joins the family business in Curacao, after the passing of his father earlier that year.
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.
1951
Dada buys an old building at Heerenstraat 4B, with the dream of eventually converting it into a three-floor retail store.
This dream is finally realized in 1969, just in time to facilitate recovery from a major disaster that year.
1952
The Boolchand Group opens a second store – Cortesia – in Curacao, this time in Hanchi Snoa.
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.
1963
The Boolchand Group establishes its first store in St. Maarten on Front Street
After building 11 websites on Webflow in under 6 weeks as a way to test a number of business ideas, Dan and Adam decide to stick to what they know best and launch Relume - a company that designs and builds beautiful Webflow websites.
1964
The Boolchand group establishes a second store in St. Maarten
The store is called Taj Mahal, selling table cloths, jewelry, watches, liquor, tobacco, cigars and other tourist goods.
1966
Ram Nandwani, Dada's eldest son, arrives in Curaçao from Tangiers to join the family business
1967
The Boolchand Group purchases a lot with a small store in St. Maarten
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.
1968
The Boolchand Group establishes operations in Bonaire
1969
Riots engulf Curaçao's Punda district, burning the entire building at Heerenstraat 10
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.
1970
Boolchand's establishes an exclusive distribution agreement with Marks & Spencer of London
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.
1971
Lachu Nandwani joins the family business to operate the Caracas business
In 1976, he would leave Caracas to join The Boolchand Group's St. Maarten operations.
1972
The Boolchand Group's St. Thomas store is ruined by smoke from an adjacent fire
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.
1973
Haresh Nandwani, Dada’s second youngest son, joins the company to operate the St. Maarten business.
1974
The Boolchand Group opens operations in Aruba, expanding to 6 stores over the course of 20 years
1976
The Boolchand Group expands the St. Thomas operations into the Havensight Harbour, simultaneously opening two locations there
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.
1978
Dada is appointed Honorary Consul of India for the Netherlands Antilles, covering Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Maarten, Statia and Saba.
1979
Lachu Nandwani leaves the St. Maarten operations to manage operations in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
1989
Boolchand's is offered the exclusive right to open franchise stores in the Caribbean under the Bye-Bye brand from Mexico
The Group quickly rolls out Bye-Bye stores in St. Thomas the same year, followed by St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire and finally Curacao.
1994
The Boolchand Group launches a new branded store focusing on fine jewelry and watches, D'Orlahn.
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.
1995
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.
1999
Ravee Nandwani, son of Ram and grandson of Dada, joins the family business 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.
2002
Dada retires from the Honorary Consul role and Ram D. Boolchand is appointed to the post.
The Boolchand Group exits retail operations in Venezuela, focusing on the core island retail and wholesale business.
2004
The Boolchand Group becomes a distribution partner of Havaianas of Brazil.
2005
Working with the Minister and local government in St. Kitts, The Boolchand Group is one of the first island retailers to establish operations there, purchasing land and building five stores.
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.
2006
The Boolchand Group becomes a distribution partner of Crocs shoes.
Navin Nandwani, son of Nari and grandson of Dada, joins the family business in St. Maarten.
2009
The Boolchand Group deepens the collaboration with Pandora Jewelry.
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).
2010
The Boolchand Group establishes a second Pandora Concept Store in St. Thomas and a third in Aruba.
In 2011, a second Concept Store in St. Thomas is opened as well as a store in Curacao.
2011
The Boolchand Group expands operations, as a Pandora Partner into the United States.
Opening a store in Miami. The Boolchand Group now operates 6 shop-in-shops and 6 concept Pandora Jewelry stores.
2012
The Boolchand Group establishes plans to expand retail operations, as a Pandora partner.
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.
2013
The Boolchand Group launches two new Crocs concept stores in St. Maarten and Curaçao.
2014
The Boolchand Group opens a Crocs franchise store.
In the US Virgin Islands and open a New Havaianas Kiosk in the Paseo Herencia Mall, Aruba.
2015
The Boolchand Group opens a new Pandora Concept Store at The Mall of San Juan in Puerto Rico.
Additionally, they open a Corporate Office and Logistics Hub in Miami to support the growing business.
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.
2016
The Boolchand Group opens Pandora Brickell City Centre in Miami, Pandora Oranjestad in Aruba and Pandora Harbour in St. Maarten.
All of these are second concept stores for the respective locations.
2017
The Boolchand Group opens its first ever Havaianas store on the boardwalk in St. Maarten.
2018
The Boolchand Group launches e-commerce via boolchand.com with a focus on Pandora and Fine Jewelry
The Boolchand Group opens Pandora Sambil on Curaçao, the second concept store for the island of Curaçao.
2020
The Boolchand Group celebrates 90 years since the opening of their first store back in 1930.
They also expand the launch of omnichannel across all locations via boolchand.com to include electronics and cameras.