Getting to Business
Area entrepreneurs make their mark
By P.M. Fadden
Small businesses with Turnagain ties prepare to blossom in 2018. These fledgling owner operated concerns offer an eclectic array of unique services, emulating the diverse nature of Alaska.
Up and coming expedition service, Get Lost Travel Vans, ranks among the most recent additions to the state’s business community with bookings to begin May 1.
Founded by the families of former Alyeska Resort administrators Brian Dagget and Darren Hawes, Get Lost hubs near Anchorage International Airport and aims to be seen state-wide.
Offering summer month rental of modified Dodge Caravan RVs, Get Lost feels its vehicles featuring sleeper areas, kitchenette with propane stove and refrigerator, storage bench and pop-up table amenities offer tourists a new angle on seeing Alaska.
The company underscores efficiency with vehicle space ideal to sleep four adults and seatbelts for five passengers.
Avid Alaska travelers themselves, Get Lost owners have extended trip options to include accessory hire the outdoor travel environs of the Great Land. Camp gear, additional external seating or expanded kitchen fare packages, owners say, create a tailored experience while on tour.
Get Lost COO Darren Hawes feels the company offers a fresh perspective for the Alaska traveler.
“We offer travelers a RV camping experience, but in a vehicle that easier to maneuver and more fuel-efficient,” he said. “It’s just like driving a regular minivan.”
Also in its early years is a new eatery, Homer Spit Oyster Bar [HSOB], a sustainability-driven local dining option founded by longtime Girdwood resident, Suvi Bayly.
Established in 2017, HSOB works alongside Kachemak Shellfish Growers Co-Op to provide an eco-conscious, seasonal food option that educates as well as satisfies its guests.
The Co-Op comprises a Kachemak Bay hatchery facility where pacific oysters are grown to introduce non-indigenous stock for commercial purposes. And, according to HSOB data, all oysters undergo testing by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation prior to harvest. The link of Co-Op hatchery with oyster bar, says Suvi Bayly, offers a K-Bay maritime product that expresses the flavor of the K-Bay environment.
HSOB intends to enhance the homegrown market by attracting “the true oyster aficionado” as well as protecting Alaska ecosystems by selling and serving locally farmed fare.
Fashion & Arts
Tapping into the world of e-commerce, locally powered online brand Gather Green takes what founder and Girdwood resident, Lindsey Helmbrecht describe as a unique approach to novel products.
Launched August 2017 Gather Green circumnavigates need for brick and mortar store frontage while introducing recycled or reusable works created by artisans who have been hand-picked for the passionate nature of their work.
Centralized in Alaska, and showcased at Girdwood’s Powder Hound Ski Shop, the Gather Green brand makes accessible the crafts of artists from across North America at a company niche angle of no cost shipping. Helmbrecht says the brand recognizes the challenges of acquiring goods in Alaska and aims to provide for clients more quickly and at a reduced cost.
Gather Green curates only handmade products to promote for online sale and Helmbrecht feels the business’s strongest asset to date to be that online sales option, reporting majority revenue volume to stem from web-based shopping. E-commerce businesses have become more and more popular nowadays, with an increase in people shopping online. Selling products online can be difficult though. Getting awareness for your brand is often difficult enough, let alone sorting out how customers are actually going to purchase these products. Most e-commerce sites seem to use software like sam cart to make sure their customers can experience a positive transaction, increasing revenue for the company. She expresses hope that these sales will also result in increased awareness for not only brand-featured artists but eco-initiatives such as Protect Our Winters and Clean Up Our Oceans as well. Both programs receive, as a donation, a portion of every Gather Green sale.
When asked about the status of small businesses along the Last Frontier, regional residents evince optimism for the seemingly local trend toward small business growth, speculating the presence of such brands and services to bode well for the local economy. It can be hard for small businesses to find effective marketing methods that can help to grow their business further, especially if they don’t have the necessary means to do so. An easy and effective way to encourage brand recognition and growth could be to have some custom pins made that are unique to your business that can be given out at trade shows or at other business events. Advertising your brand to the wider community will only prove to be beneficial to you and the economy in the long run.
With hopes high for summer 2018 to follow the past two years record growth arcs in tourism, these and other locally powered businesses look next to make impactful, positive strides on a statewide level.