Starting your own business involves a lot of planning and hard work. Aside from worrying about the financial aspect of entrepreneurship, managing a business entails a certain level of responsibility.
Regardless of what kind of services or products you offer, it’s crucial to ensure that they provide genuine value to your customers. After all, they’re the lifeblood of your business; without them, it wouldn’t succeed. As a grocer, Gustavus, Alaska, resident Toshua Parker has firsthand knowledge regarding this area.
Toshua is the owner of Icy Strait Wholesale, a grocery in Gustavus, a remote Alaskan region only accessible by boat or plane. Since his locality is running out of supplies because of the coronavirus pandemic, Toshua is taking action to meet the needs of the small city’s residents.
When starting your own business, a pandemic making a huge change in the way you run things is farthest from your mind. But since the outbreak hit, he and his staff have been making weekly boat trips to Juneau, the state’s capital 50 miles away.
The group procures their stock of food and essentials at the Costco there. Toshua and his team take around 14 hours to complete the excursion aboard a 96 feet long converted military landing craft. The journey is far from easy, but to these people, it’s all worth it.
The coastal community’s 450 residents are grateful to Toshua and his team for their efforts, especially since ToshCo – their nickname for his store – is the only place where they buy their groceries.
Toshua usually has his food and supplies shipped from Costco to his shop via the state’s ferry system. However, it no longer serves Gustavus due to the pandemic. Severe storms have also damaged the city’s dock.
Knowing that there was no alternative delivery method in place, Toshua took matters into his own hands before Gustavus runs out of food and essentials.
“It’s funny because for us, this doesn’t seem like a big deal,” he 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.”
With the help of fishermen and his employees, Toshua has been making the weekly boat trip since March. Once they arrive in Juneau, they purchase what they need from Costco and load them on the boat.
Typically, he goes to the capital once a week. He schedules his trips around the tides and the weather so that he and his team will remain safe. However, despite having this precaution, the group still encounters difficulties on their journey.
For a few times already, storms hit while the group was on their way back home. When this happens, they return to Juneau and place the groceries into coolers. Once the weather becomes favorable, they reload the supplies on the boat and try to make the trip again.
While the Gustavus locals are incredibly thankful for Toshua’s initiative, he says it’s his employees who deserve the praise for “going to work every day during this pandemic to make sure our town stays supplied.”
A proud resident of the city, Toshua says that it’s in their nature to find a way to survive.
“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,” he said.
Starting your own business is no joke, but Toshua was meant to do this kind of calling. As bad as this pandemic is, having people around like Toshua and his team definitely makes these unprecedented times easier. If not for their efforts, the city would have run out of essentials. Gustavus is very lucky to have town heroes like them!