Postcard from Kodiak: Bulk-style shopping with a Bush Alaska twist

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KODIAK, Alaska (KTUU) - Give them a chance, and Alaskans love to buy in bulk. When shoppers learned the Sam’s Club stores were closing, they lined up around the block for a shot at fire-sale savings. In Fairbanks, an online petition to entice Costco has topped 10,000 signatures.

But what if you live off the road system? Say, an island that can only be reached by barge or plane?

In Kodiak, a married couple with deep roots in the Bush retail game have bet on bulk, Costco-style sales with an Alaska twist. A dog named Coco wanders the aisles in a Cost-Savers employee shirt. A pizza parlor provides Sunday night pies for Navy Seals who train nearby. Setnetters, stocking for the season, find three flavors of Spam on the shelves.

“(Villagers) send in orders. Email in orders and we’ll put them together and send them out,” said Al Large, who owns Cost-Savers with his wife Barbara. “Lots of dry, dry goods. And things they see in Costco. They’ll say, ‘Did you see this, and can you get it for us, because we saw it last time we were in Anchorage.’”

Watch the clip above for a postcard from Kodiak and a peek inside the sometimes off-beat, grab-bag world of rural Alaska retail.

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