- After the coronavirus pandemic stopped the ferry service that delivers inventory to his grocery store, Toshua Parker started making weekly trips to stock up at a Costco located about 50 miles away.
- He owns the only grocery store in Gustavus, Alaska, a 450 person town boarding Glacier Bay National Park.
- Parker and his employees use a converted military landing craft to make the 14-hour trip and hope that inclement weather doesn’t force them to turn around.
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Costco runs are stressful enough during a pandemic, but they’re especially tasking when shopping to feed 450 people.
But that’s exactly what Toshua Parker, the owner of the only grocery store in a remote Alaskan town, has been doing since the coronavirus outbreak in the US escalated in early March.
Parker’s store, Icy Strait Wholesale — or ToshCo as the locals call it — typically has its inventory delivered via the state ferry but had to get creative when ferry service to his town halted because of storm damage to its port and the quickly spreading novel coronavirus.
ToshCo is the only grocery store in Gustavus, Alaska, a 450 person town boarding Glacier Bay National Park, Parker had to get creative to keep the shelves full. Not only does Parker have to buy enough supplies to keep his store shelves stocked for a week, but he also has to carry his haul on a 14-hour boat ride home, according to CNN.
“It’s funny because for us, this doesn’t seem like a big deal,” Parker told CNN. “Alaskans are fiercely independent and resourceful; you really have to be to survive here. So when a problem arises, we don’t typically look to someone else for help, we just find a way to do it.”
Parker told CNN that he and a group of his employees set sail for the Costco store in Juneau once a week on a converted military landing craft, timing their departure around tides and the weather. The 62-nautical mile trip takes them 14 hours each way, CNN reported. On multiple occasions, the weather has gotten so bad that they had to turn around midway.
“The town needed to be supplied with groceries so we just did whatever it took to make that happen,” Parker told CNN. “Just another day in our world. Next year it will be another obstacle to overcome and we’ll buck up and deal with it.”
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