This Man Is Feeding His Entire Alaskan Town One 14-hour Boat Trip at a Time

Life is a little more complicated for Alaskans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boats in the water near Gustavus, Alaska
Photo: Sabine Rieg / EyeEm / Getty Images

Next time you're bothered by having to simply wear a mask to your town grocery store try thinking about what Toshua Parker has to endure to pick up items for him and his neighbors.

You see, Parker is the owner of Icy Strait Wholesale, a market in the remote Alaskan city of Gustavus, which happens to also be a gateway town to Glacier National Park.

In better times, Parker merely waits for goods to be delivered to the store via ferry so he can turn around and sell them to the town. However, once coronavirus hit, ferry service stalled, meaning he had to find a new way to feed his community of about 450 people.

As NPR explained, Parker enlisted a small crew to join him each week for a 14-hour boat ride to Juneau to fill up on supplies customers may need from the local Costco.

"They're coming to work every day, no matter what, during this pandemic to make sure the town has groceries," Parker told NPR's Morning Edition about his intrepid crew. As for the customers, they couldn't be happier with the dedication.

"It's like Christmas when the load gets here," he told The Hustle. "Everyone is waiting for it. Word gets out, and they all seem to know when it's coming."

All this effort has even landed the store a new nickname: ToshCo, a loving play on Toshua and Costco.

The only thing that's odd to Parker is the fact that people seem to be fascinated by the story of a grocer going on weekly 14-hour journeys to bring his town food.

"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."

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