Community Issues

You’ve Never Seen A Costco Run Like This Before

Wait until you hear what a store owner is doing to make sure his remote town stays fed.

There's no doubt that the restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have made things harder for most people. Even going to the grocery store requires following a host of new etiquette rules, like wearing face masks, sanitizing your cart and staying in designated 'one-way' lanes to maintain social distancing.

The situation is also challenging for the store owners, clerks and stockers who are working hard on a daily basis to make sure we stay fed.

But our shopping struggles pale in comparison to what Toshua Parker has to do to keep the shelves stocked at his store, Icy Strait Wholesale in Gustavus, AK.

Parker's store is the only place for the residents of the remote Alaskan town to get food and supplies. The state ferry system usually delivers his supplies from Juno, but due to the pandemic, and some damage to the docks from storms, the ferries have stopped running.

To keep the supply chain from stopping, Parker decided to take matters into his own hands and began making the boat trips himself.

Every week, Parker and his staff make a trip to Juno, AK on a 96-foot barge to pick up supplies for his store. Icy Strait Wholesale/Facebook

Parker makes the 14-hour round trip journey to Juno once a week, where he loads up a 96-foot long restored military landing craft/barge with Costco supplies.

"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 makes each trip with the help of his staff and some local fisherman. They plan their trips according to the weather, however a few times the storms have forced them to return to Juno, where they unload and store their supplies in coolers until the weather clears and they're able to reload and get back out on the water.

Along with the long distance delivery trips, Parker and his staff at "ToshCo" (that's how locals refer to the store) have been fulfilling curbside pick-up and delivery orders for quarantined residents since the start of the crisis.

Parker and his staff have been working around-the-clock to get the supplies they need to keep the store stocked during the pandemic. Icy Strait Wholesale/Facebook

Back in March, when stores across the U.S. were running out of toilet paper, the town of Gustavus was thoroughly stocked, thanks to Parker and his staff's hard work.

The town's residents have been appreciative of Parker's efforts to keep the shelves stocked, although Parker says it's all thanks to his employees, who have been working around the clock to make the deliveries happen.

"The town needed to be supplied with groceries, so we just did whatever it took to make that happen," Parker said. "Just another day in our world. Next year it will be another obstacle to overcome and we'll buck up and deal with it."

Thanks to Parker and his team, ToshCo has enough produce, meat and supplies for the town. Icy Strait Wholesale/Facebook

How can you start something good?

You may not be able (or need) to charter a cargo ship to round up supplies, but you can think of others when you go to the grocery store. Do you have an elderly or immunosupressed neighbor or relative who can't get out? Why not pick up the things they need?

You can also do your best to keep yourself, and others, safe when you're shopping. That includes wearing a face mask, following social distancing protocol and only taking what you need.

Also, be sure to thank the grocery store employees who have been working tirelessly on the frontlines of the pandemic. We're sure they'd appreciate the encouragement!

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

The Conversation
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