Alaskan Goes to Great Lengths to Save His Town


Jacqueline Kim, Staff Writer

Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve seen hardships, hate-crimes, and negativity towards our circumstances. However, in the midst of panic and uncertainty, while dealt with both deplorable and hopeless situations, there have been many rising heroes throughout the country and world. Beyond our heroic doctors, nurses, and frontline healthcare workers, basic civilians and residents have managed to step up in order to care and provide for their local communities and towns, and we’re able to see an example of a local hero in none other than isolated Alaska.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many means of transportation have been brought to a halt to sensibly curtail the spread of the outbreak. However, this has left countless cities without necessary transits and transports of daily needs. The citizens of remote Gustavus, Alaska have depended heavily on their local ferry systems for the delivery of numerous essentials to their local grocery outlets. With their most accessible suppliers, a Costco located about 50 miles away in the state’s capital, Juneau, the residents of Gustavus have grown increasingly restless and concerned as food stocks have steadily depleted and basic necessities have become unavailable to the public. It seems as though the civilians of Gustavus have been entirely abandoned.

However, Toshua Parker, the owner of Icy Strait Wholesale in Gustavus, has taken matters into his own hands. Parker’s business, the sole available grocery market to the 450 residents of Gustavus, has provided citizens with basic provisions that would be otherwise unavailable. Serving his town with reliable goods and products that have expanded from produce to home-goods, Icy Strait Wholesale, nicknamed as ‘ToshCo’ among the locals, has equipped inhabitants of Gustavus for years. However, within these new circumstances Parker’s stocks have considerably dropped, shelves and storage slowly emptying without contact from his suppliers. As a resident and sympathizer of his fellow helpless citizens, Parker decided that he would step up in order to provide for his town, whether the ferry systems would deliver his produce or not. Parker has taken it upon himself to make this 50-mile, 14-hour boat ride to Juneau on his own accord. 

Since the first week of March, Parker and his staff have set out on this weekly 14-hour journey to Juneau, scheduling around tides and weather in order to keep his grateful town well-supplied. However, Parker has redirected much of his local praise, greatly crediting his employees and staff for “going to work every day during this pandemic to make sure our town stays supplied.”

As Parker’s endeavors have been gaining more global attention, he’s conducted many interviews, in which he’s been asked to discuss the long lengths he’s forced to go in order to provide for his town. In an interview with CNN, Parker states, “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.” Parker explains how this tough “Alaskan-mindset” has driven him to meet these extreme needs on his own, using his own resources and independence in order to see his plans through. Detaching himself from his dependence on the local ferry systems, Parker has been able to devise new plans to work around his circumstances.

“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.”