Toshua Parker salutes his staff in keeping supplies and food in Gustavus

    Gustavus, Alaska (KINY) - Ice Strait Wholesale has kept groceries and supplies coming into town during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Owner Toshua Parker has not only had to deal with the pandemic but months of little or no ferry service into town.

    With no roads in and out of Gustavus, the only way to get in supplies was previously provided by the Alaska Marine Highway.

    His store provides all kinds of items like fresh produce, to hardware and sporting goods.

    The ferry dock is also being constructed this summer further interrupting ferry service.

    As a backup plan, Parker purchased two ships to use should the ferry service be interrupted.

    He often has made seven-hour round-trips to the Costco in Juneau to get supplies.

    He noted this also helps keep the prices in his store lower.

    Parker's efforts made several national publications in recent weeks.

    Parker said his staff deserves a lot of credit for going above and beyond to help the community, "I think the thing that got missed in the national articles is there was a lot of focus on me where the reality is the staff working behind me are making this work.  Without them, none of this would be happening." 

    He said employees are running the boats in terrible weather, workers making orders for supplies all hours of the night, and putting in a lot of extra hours stocking shelves.

    "It has been hectic.  I think trying to stay ahead of the orders has been the big one.  We are quite a bit behind on getting tings from down south on the barge and sending them out to Gustavus.  When we find out we are out of something or didn't receive something we've ordered, we have to act quickly to get the supplies here quickly."

    Parker grew up in Gustavus and then moved to Arizona, before deciding to return.  He and his father also invested in a gas station and freight company.

    He started with 100 percent Costco items to keep the prices low.  He has since expanded to hardware and other items.

    "We have weathered this pandemic better than a lot of places.  We never ran out of toilet paper or any of the essentials.  We have had pretty much everything in stock.  Some of us shipped items to our family members down south because they couldn't get them."

    He said he thinks things have improved in the supply chain in recent weeks.

    "We see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of being able to get things on a regular basis."

     

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