Why This Alaskan Grocer Is Making Weekly 14-Hour Boat Trips To Costco

We're all doing our part during the pandemic to help others, even if that means keeping the people under our roof safe. One Alaskan grocer is doing perhaps more than his part, by making the ultimate Costco run to keep his small town flush with essentials. The Hustle originally reported in early May on Toshua Parker, who owns Icy Strait Wholesale in Gustavus, which is a remote coastal community accessible only by boat or plane. The closest Costco is 50 miles away in the state's capital city of Juneau. But the distance hasn't stopped Parker from making weekly runs to the warehouse giant to stock up. Consider the trip takes 14 hours!

According to CNN, who weeks later picked up The Hustle's story, the lovingly-nicknamed ToshCo is the one place to shop for groceries and other pandemic must-haves for the 450 folks who call Gustavus home. Under normal circumstances, Costco ships goods to ToshCo, but due to COVID-19, the ferry system used for transporting goods is shut down. Without Parker, Gustavus residents might really be in for hardship during these unprecedented times.

This Alaskan grocer doesn't think of himself as a hero

Parker started his weekly Costco runs when he saw Gustavus running low on crucial supplies. About the huge sacrifice the store owner is making, he said it's not that big a deal. "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," he said (via CNN).

The dedicated Alaskan plans his super-sized shopping trips around tides and weather. Occasionally a storm will arise, and Parker and his staff will have to dock their 96-foot boat in Juneau, store perishables in coolers, and wait out the bad weather. The team then makes their way back to Gustavus with $20,000 worth of eggs, flour, meat, canned goods, and produce (via The Hustle). "It's like Christmas when the load gets here. Everyone is waiting for it. Word gets out, and they all seem to know when it's coming," he told the outlet.

Meanwhile, Parker told CNN about these seemingly-daunting conditions just to shop: "Just another day in our world. Next year it will be another obstacle to overcome and we'll buck up and deal with it." So think about that the next time you wish you didn't have to wear a face mask to shop at Costco. At least running out to grab paper towels and laundry detergent doesn't take 14 hours.