In one of the most uplifting stories to come from the Covid-19 pandemic, we learn a lesson in Alaskan ingenuity and toughness from Toshua Parker, a grocer in a remote Alaskan region that's only accessible by boat or plane. Parker has been going above and beyond to keep his small city fed during the coronavirus pandemic.
As first reported by The Hustle, when Gustavus, Alaska, was cut off from its grocery supply chain, Parker, who owns Icy Strait Wholesale, decided to take matters into his own hands, piloting a small barge to the world’s most remote Costco warehouse, in Juneau, to procure $20k worth of eggs, flour, meat, canned goods, and produce for the 446 residents of his tiny town.
"The town needed to be supplied with groceries so we just did whatever it took to make that happen," says Parker.
For the residents Gustavus, the only place to buy groceries is "Toshco," the locals' affectionate nickname for Parker's store.
Parker returned to a hero's welcome and has been making the 100-mile weekly boat round-trip to Juneau with his staff to restock on essential food and supplies at Costco. It takes them about 14 hours to complete the journey on the 96-foot converted military landing craft.
But it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for Parker's bold endeavor. And gauging demand, especially in a time of shortages, can be tricky business.
“You have to think proactively,” says Parker. “Because by the time there is a problem, it’s way too late to fix it.
Note: Some of the images in this story were provided by Sean Neilson, a wildlife photography guide who lives in Gustavus. You can support his work by buying prints from his online store and following him on Instagram.