Skip to main Content

Open & Shut: Retail closures in the Valley, plus new Anchorage coffee shop

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: April 7, 2018
  • Published February 3, 2018

This is an installment of an occasional series in the Anchorage Daily News taking a quick look at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Annie Zak at


Uncle Leroy's Coffee: The owners of a mobile coffee bus business are embarking on a brick-and-mortar location at 701 W. 36th Ave. in Anchorage, in a space that used to be a laundromat.

Uncle Leroy's Coffee has operated out of a repurposed 1968 school bus since 2015, roaming around to farmers markets and food truck events. Now, co-owners Austin Schwartz and Carla McConnell want to expand, so they're collaborating with macaron and lunch spot Sweet Caribou. The plan is to break out part of the wall between the businesses so the two are connected.

"We want it to function or feel like a divey bar," said Schwartz. The space will be small, he added, and have a coffee bar.

Schwartz hopes the new location will open in March or no later than April, and said they'll continue using the bus, too.

Uncle Leroy’s Coffee plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in March 2018 where a laundromat used to be on West 36th Avenue in Anchorage. (Annie Zak / ADN)

Black Diamond: Salt Lake City-based climbing and skiing equipment company Black Diamond is opening up a retail store in Anchorage.

The store will be downtown at 400 W. Fourth Ave., where menswear shop The Mercantile used to be. When exactly the store will open is "TBD," spokesman John DiCuollo said in an email.

Black Diamond sells its products at other retailers, but the Anchorage location will be the company's second stand-alone retail spot, following its flagship store in Salt Lake City, DiCuollo said.


Growing Spurts: A used clothing store at 4931 E. Mayflower Lane in Wasilla, Growing Spurts posted on Facebook on Thursday that it will close March 23.

"It is with great sadness and regret that after 15 years of business Growing Spurts will be closing their doors," the post said. The store has stopped accepting clothing drop-offs as it winds down business.

Growing Spurts opened in 2003. Barb Dippert, the owner, said she's noticed people going about selling their clothes differently nowadays, like through Facebook.

"I just don't have the business anymore to keep it going," she said.

Forever Endeavor: This arts and crafts store at 642 S. Alaska St. in Palmer last month announced on Facebook its plans to shut its doors.

"Call it itchy feet, call it artistic freedom, call it wanderlust," the post said, but the ownership decided to close the storefront. Forever Endeavor has been around for three years, according to the post. It closed on Jan. 31.

"(T)here wasn't any one single reason for us closing. We had set some goals and we didn't reach them," said manager Tara Pollock, via Facebook message. "I'm keeping the Forever Endeavor business name as an individual artist. But in future (e)ndeavors we probably won't have consignment or supplies. The shop was a ton of fun and I'm going to miss it."

C'est La Vie Affordable Fashions: This clothing and accessory shop at 1830 E. Parks Highway in Wasilla is discounting its inventory as it prepares to shut its doors.

"The economy has been rough enough on our store, that I am going to have to close down," a January post on C'est La Vie's Facebook page read. The store opened in 2012.

Caroline Henn, the owner, said she will probably close the store before the end of February. In addition to more people shopping online, she attributed the closure in part to smaller Permanent Fund dividends the last couple of years. Her business typically relied on strong sales at the end of the year, after PFD season, to help it through leaner times after the holidays.

The Metro Cafe: Owner Carmen Starheim said this Wasilla cafe is closing after a decade in business so she can be a stay-at-home mom for her son.

"I just knew I was turning 50, and he's 12 and he plays hockey, and it's just him and I, and it's time," Starheim said. She lost her husband to cancer several years ago. He built the coffee shop for her.

The cafe at 1700 Lucille St., which focused on local vendors for its food and drinks, will close Feb. 23. Starheim plans to try to sell the space after it shuts its doors.

Loose Moose Cafe: After two years in business, the Loose Moose Cafe at 431 W. Parks Highway in Wasilla is set to close Feb. 24.

Owner Kathryn Wuitschick has been a full-time caregiver to her husband after he had a stroke, and so when she had the opportunity to sell her business to someone who wants to turn the spot into a Korean barbecue restaurant, she took it.

"We love the Valley people and we thank them for the business," said Wuitschick, whose daughter has been running the cafe. "It's another stepping stone, that's it. We had a great time while it lasted."

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.