Alaskan Man Makes Weekly 14-Hour Boat Trips to Costco to Keep His City Fed amid Pandemic

Icy Strait Wholesale owner Toshua Parker lives in the Alaskan city of Gustavus, which is only accessible by boat or plane


A man from Alaska is refusing to let his city go hungry amid the coronavirus pandemic — and he's doing it one Costco trip at a time.

Since March, Gustavus resident Toshua Parker has been taking weekly boat trips to the Juneau Costco in order to restock on food and supplies for his small city, which is only accessible by boat or plane, according to CNN.

Parker — who owns Icy Strait Wholesale, the only place to buy groceries in Gustavus — uses a 96-foot long converted military landing craft to travel with his staff to the state's capital 50 miles away, a journey that takes them 14 hours roundtrip, the outlet reported.

"It's funny because for us, this doesn't seem like a big deal," Parker explained to CNN. "Alaskans are fiercely independent and resourceful; you really have to be to survive here."

"When a problem arises, we don't typically look to someone else for help, we just find a way to do it," he added.

Prior to the outbreak of the virus, Parker's store had been receiving shipments from the local Costco via Alaska's ferry system. However, the pandemic, along with severe storms that damaged the city's dock, caused the ferry to stop operating, CNN reported.

This left the residents of Gustavus wondering how they would obtain food and other essentials to survive. Knowing there were no other options, Parker and his staff jumped into action.

Consulting with local fishermen, the group decided to make the weekly boat trips based on tides and weather, according to the outlet.

"The town needed to be supplied with groceries so we just did whatever it took to make that happen," Parker told CNN. "Just another day in our world."

Their process is simple: once the boat docks in Juneau, the group buys the supplies in the store and then loads them onto their ship before returning home to Gustavus.

On days where inclement weather hits during their trip, the group turns around and stays in Juneau, keeping their groceries in coolers until it is safe to reembark on the waters and travel home, CNN reported.

Parker has even been documenting some of their bulk purchases on the Facebook page of Icy Strait Wholesale, which is referred to as ToshCo by the city's 450 residents.

"No reason for panic buying. Our supply chain may be occasionally delayed but it’s holding," Parker wrote on April 3 beside a photo featuring several cases of cans, flour and confectioners sugar. "We’ve got you covered Gustavus!"

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Locals have been quick to credit Parker for his actions, but the small business owner told the outlet it's his employees who are the real heroes, noting how they are "going to work every day during this pandemic to make sure our town stays supplied."

Parker also said he is confident that whatever gets thrown their way, he and his staff will find a way to make it work.

"Next year it will be another obstacle to overcome and we'll buck up and deal with it," he told CNN.

As of Monday, there have been over 1.5 million cases and 89,812 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times. Alaska has recorded some of the lowest numbers, with at least 396 cases and eight deaths reported, according to the Times.

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