Alaskan man makes tough 14-hr boat trip to Costco weekly to make sure his small town has groceries

May 27th, 2020

Life in Alaska isn’t anything like it is in the lower 48 states. In fact, it’s nothing like any part of the United States, period.

Because only in Alaska would a 14-hour Costco run, on a 96-foot long converted military landing craft, no less, be considered a regular part of everyday life!

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Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale Source: Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale

When Alaskans aren’t dodging giant 7-foot tall moose on their daily commute to work, they’re having run-ins with bears who are swimming in the same rivers they sport kayak in.

Since the state is a bazillion square miles in size, people have gotten used to not getting their Amazon packages delivered in 2 days or less.

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When the lockdown hit the small town of Gustavus, it was no big deal. It’s impossible to live in Alaska and not learn how to fend for yourself.

That’s probably why, even though the only way in or out of Gustavus is by boat or plane, the 450 locals in this tiny city took the lack of toilet paper all in stride.

“This is what you don’t see when you shop at Toshco, the hours and hours of late-night work going on behind the scenes to source groceries from all over the U.S. in the midst of all the panic.”

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Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale Source: Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale

It also helped that they could depend on a man named Toshua Parker, who owns the only grocery store in town, Icy Strait Wholesale, for their needs.

After the pandemic hit and cut off all supplies to Gustavus, Toshua hopped on his boat, the M/V Claim Jumper, to feed his town!

“It’s been a long winter of rough seas but today the crew of the Claim Jumper gets a well-deserved weather break. Tons of groceries and freight coming your way Gustavus!”

Don’t let those cars in this town fool you. To this day, those roads still don’t connect to anywhere in the outside world.

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Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale Source: Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesale

Up until recently, Toshua’s supplies had been coming directly to him on the Alaska State Ferry System. But after the ferries shut down amid the corona crisis, he had to take matters into his own hands.

Toshua has been making weekly boat trips with his staff to Juneau, which is 50 miles away, to stock up on essential supplies.

“It’s a strange new world we live in… Pulling phone and email orders long after the store closes for people in quarantine and coordinating deliveries. If we wake you up with a late-night doorstep delivery we apologize, we’re a little behind. Thanks for your patience!”

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Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesaler Source: Facebook/Toshco - Icy Strait Wholesaler

It takes Toshua 14-hours to complete the trek, where he and his crew load up as much stuff as they can fit on his converted military landing craft boat.

“No reason for panic buying. Our supply chain may be occasionally delayed but it’s holding. We’ve got you covered Gustavus!”

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Facebook/Toscho - Icy Strait Wholesale Source: Facebook/Toscho - Icy Strait Wholesale

The cozy coastal community, which sits right on the edge of the Glacier Bay National Park, also suffered losses in their transportation infrastructure when the city’s docks were damaged in recent storms.

With the help of his employees and local Fisherman, Toshua has been able to turn the tide and bring much-needed food to his beloved, close-knit community. But it’s really not that big of a deal to him, as he told CNN:

“The town needed to be supplied with groceries so we just did whatever it took to make that happen. 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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Toshco - Icy Straight Wholesale Source: Toshco - Icy Straight Wholesale

As much as us normal folk love the place, taking a 14-hour boat trip is one helluva Costco run!

“It’s funny because for us, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. 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.”
For Toshua, the experience for him is just another day in the life of a hardy Alaskan.

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Source: CNN, ToshCo