Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking 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 Alex DeMarban, with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.
FashionPact: An Anchorage woman is opening a secondhand clothing store downtown where sales will support charities.
FashionPact is set to open in late June, said owner Brittani Clancey.
She plans to sell every item for $5. She’ll keep $3. The item’s donor gets to pick a charity to receive $1 of the sale. The item’s buyer chooses a charity to receive the remaining $1.
Clancey and her husband, James, are renovating the former Payless Auto Care store at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Ingra Street where the shop will open.
On Wednesday, James installed hanging rods between handmade wooden racks. The couple has four children, and their youngest son, Stuart, played with a tape measure.
Clancey said the showroom will look more like a boutique than a thrift store, with clothing and accessories thoughtfully displayed.
The self-described “thrifter at heart,” and former stay-at-home mom, said she came up with the idea for the business a couple of years ago.
At the time, she and others struggled to raise money for the Parent Teacher Association at the Northern Lights ABC school, where her kids attended.
“So much effort is put into these fundraisers for so little money,” Clancey said. “My business will put in the effort for them.”
Several nonprofits have already signed up with FashionPact through its website. They include the Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center, Victims for Justice and Alaska Trails. Clancey will cut a monthly check to charities, she said.
Stuart will soon head off to kindergarten, freeing up Clancey to run the store.
“I’ve been a mom for the last 10 years,” she said. “I’m excited to get back into working because I love working.”
Sockeye Sundry: A married couple and their friend, out of work in December after rising COVID-19 numbers spurred the city to restrict business at restaurants, gathered around a kitchen table and came up with a plan.
The K Street Convenience Store and Market had just closed downtown. The nearby 4th Avenue Barber Shop had also shut down.
So Josh and Alexis Troutman and J.C. Durante decided to open a convenience store in the former barbershop at 735 W. Fourth Ave. They renovated the small space and added a walk-up window for people concerned about COVID-19.
They launched Sockeye Sundry early this month. Part of their goal is sparking business activity downtown.
“It has been hit pretty hard the last couple of years,” Josh Troutman said.
The three met about 15 years ago when they worked at the nearby Glacier Brewhouse. With bars and restaurants now fully reopened, Alexis Troutman and Durante are bartending again at downtown bars. Josh Troutman works for a food distributor, supplying restaurants.
Sockeye serves up espressos, ice cream, phone chargers and other general merchandise. The clientele includes office workers and, increasingly, tourists. Tourists on the go can pick up the Sockeye sack lunch, with premade sandwiches, a beverage and snacks.
It’s open throughout the day, except for Sundays when it’s closed.
On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s also open late, from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. It sells single slices of pizza to patrons leaving nearby bars, like the Gaslight Lounge and Pioneer Bar.
“There’s a hundred people just milling around here,” Josh Troutman said.
Sockeye Sundry shares a door with Pakalolo, a cannabis retailer.
“The idea was to get your pot from them and get your snacks from us,” Josh said.
The Broken Blender: The Matanuska Brewing Co. closed its downtown brewpub shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
It never reopened.
The Broken Blender, a cocktail bar and restaurant with a spacious outdoor deck, opened last month in its place.
Adrianne Foltz, formerly a spirits and wine distributor in Anchorage, said she’d done everything in the restaurant industry but own a bar and restaurant.
So when Matanuska Brewing went up for sale, she jumped on it.
After a monthlong remodel, she opened the business in mid-April at 535 W. Third Ave. The restaurant is across the street from the Hilton hotel.
The Broken Blender serves more affordable cocktails, about $7 or $8 for drinks that cost $12 somewhere else, she said. The beers on tap are almost all locally made.
The menu includes the Blender Burger, which comes with goat cheese, blueberry-bacon jam and arugula. It’s a twist on a traditional cheeseburger, she said.
Bacon-wrapped and bourbon-glazed chicken wings are top sellers, she said.
Sweet Cheeks Cabaret, the burlesque show, performs downstairs below the bar on Saturday nights. They’ll also perform Friday nights, starting in June.
The Broken Blender is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Northern Wings Cafe: This shop sells coffee and dessert and offers cake-making classes. It opened in April in a strip mall at the corner of Dimond and Arctic boulevards.
Owner April Eide said she wanted to start the business after volunteering for four years at the Mears Middle School student coffee shop, where she was president of the Parent Teacher Student Association.
Eide is the cafe’s sole employee. As business grows, she hopes to employ students, teaching them baking and business skills.
“Bringing in the community is something I really enjoy,” she said.
Eide also owns Butterfly Confetti Cakes. She’s been making cakes and teaching others to make them for years.
Her handmade cakes, push pops and cupcakes are also for sale at the coffee shop, alongside sandwiches, salads and other items purchased at Ollin Tea and Cafe, also in South Anchorage.
The store is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Sweet Caribou: This artisan dessert maker keeps growing.
It recently expanded, taking over the space previously occupied by Wings ‘N Things in the Olympic Center at Arctic Boulevard and 36th Avenue.
Now, it has its own dining space in the strip mall, after previously sharing seating there with Uncle Leroy’s Coffee. It will also launch a sandwich line, hopefully in a month, said owner James Strong.
“We just got through testing all the breads for it,” said Strong, who launched Sweet Caribou in Anchorage food markets in 2014.
The pandemic seemed to help sales, he said.
Sweet Caribou, a caterer, owned several delivery vehicles before COVID-19 struck.
That supported deliveries as people stayed home, supplying passion fruit- and birthday cake-flavored macarons and lunch bowls like the Kenai Kale Quinoa bowl topped with marinated chicken.
Business is looking brighter as people socialize again, he said.
“Everyone lately is ordering food for special events to make up for what they didn’t do in the last year,” he said.
Kentucky Fried Chicken: The fast-food chain plans to open this summer in place of the former Sweet Basil Cafe along Northern Lights Boulevard.
The old Sweet Basil building, a Taco Bell in an earlier life, was recently demolished.
KFC franchise owner Fred Jackson is constructing a new building to house the restaurant, said Pete Hickel, president of Hickel Construction and Engineering, the project’s general contractor.
The new restaurant will replace the KFC down the road, in the strip mall at Northern Lights Boulevard and C Street.
The new location, at 1021 W. Northern Lights Blvd. will have drive-thru service, a feature its predecessor lacked, Hickel said. During the pandemic, many fast-food restaurants have had brisk business at drive-thru windows.
The KFC’s lease in the strip mall is also ending, Hickel said.
Jackson “will move out of that location once we finish this new one,” Hickel said.
Lucky Wishbone: The restaurant scheduled its 65th anniversary celebration Friday, after the actual anniversary date came and went in November.
The event marks the restaurant’s return to indoor dining after it had been shut down for 14 months, to keep employees and customers safe from COVID-19, said Heidi Heinrich, an owner.
The celebration, with a DJ and other festivities, is allowing Lucky Wishbone to show off the $75,000 upgrade to the dining room.
“It’s time to celebrate,” Heinrich said.
Art Services North: Close to 40 years old, the Anchorage events company survived the state’s oil-price bust in the 1980s and other downturns.
It organized events that drew thousands, from the Fourth of July celebration in Anchorage to major events like Alaska’s 50th anniversary in 2009. It helped charities raise money with fundraisers.
“We were the big dogs” in events, said longtime owner Darl Schaaff.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and Anchorage restrictions halted events, forcing Art Services North to close.
“For an entire year, we went without any income, any events,” he said.
“I took it as a sign that it’s time to retire,”' said Schaaff, 71.
He said other events companies will rise in his place. He’s given some companies some of the props and equipment he’s collected over the decades.
He also recently held a big garage sale, and plans to host additional sales in the future.
He offered up Christmas decorations, Hawaiian trappings, stage scenery and all manner of other items.
“One woman walked out with handful of rubber snakes,” he said.