Mixed in with the grocery stores, gas stations and fishing tackle supply shops that line the Sterling Highway as it runs through the town of Soldotna is a 5-foot-2-inch-tall, hand-turned wooden bowl. It is the sign that you've arrived at Three Guys No Wood, where more than 500 bowls are created each year -- and where these days, its owners even consider their business to be "profitable."
"It's paying for itself," said Paul Johnson, dressed in a forest green shop coat. "Both columns say zero." His wife, Shanna Johnson, added that not operating in the red is a good development and a "new thing."
The couple says they've advertised "tons of different ways," but besides word of mouth, their most effective marketing tool has been the oversized bowl, which took three weeks to complete and now rests along Mile 100 of the highway. They said it "intrigues" people -- visitors and locals alike.
"Most of our business is open during the summer when all of the tourists are here, so we are going to see more tourists, but people come from all over the world. Germany, Australia, England -- you name it -- we have had all of them come through this door," said Paul Johnson.
Three Guys No Wood opened its doors in Soldotna four summers ago, but it has come a long way -- geographically. The idea originated in the Arctic community of Barrow, where the Johnsons were living and working as teachers.