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Jun 04, 2019| Local Shopping

Ketchikan's General Store Is Alaska's Oldest Business: Tongass Trading Co.

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When you shop with Tongass Trading Company, you’re truly shopping a piece of Alaska’s history. Founded in September, 1898 as Strong & Johnstone Co. by Ketchikan pioneers Henry C. Strong and Frederick C. Johnstone, it was renamed Tongass Trading Company in 1900, and incorporated in 1901. At the turn of the century, the store supplied the miners and mining camps throughout Southeast Alaska when it was otherwise difficult to find items necessary for everyday living.
 

In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, Tongass Trading Company provided supplies, gear and storage to the commercial halibut fishing fleet, as well as household goods, clothes and groceries to local residents. In the mid and latter part of the 20th century, it also supplied the booming logging camps of Southeast Alaska.
 
 

Today, Tongass Trading Company is described as a combination of REI, Cabela’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. They carry brand name outdoor gear such as Arc’teryx, The North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, and Carhartt, as well as men’s and women’s fashion clothing such as Levi, Billabong, Hurley, Silver Jeans, Nautica, and Uggs. They supply commercial and sport fishing gear, hardware, and furniture and are a popular stop for cruise ship travelers looking for uniquely Alaskan curios, gifts and souvenirs. Whether you’re here to work or to relax they have what you need to enjoy your trip to Ketchikan.

Employees of Tongass Trading Co. wearing Ketchikan's XTRATUF® boot also called the Ketchikan sneaker for how much it rains in Ketchikan, Alaska
 
 

Chris Parks, a longtime Ketchikan resident, manages the stores and helps keep Tongass’ nine different departments in six buildings in Ketchikan all running smoothly. When Chris is not working he’s out on the water fishing or attending one of the many summertime activities that Tongass Trading Company is proud to sponsor, including the Prince of Wales Marathon, which occurs every year in May. Zach Stewart, who has been with the stores for many years, describes Ketchikan as artistic, safe, and tight-night and takes pride in its reputation for being the city that popularized the XTRATUF® boot, the neoprene, 100% waterproof boot worn by local fisherman for over 50 years. It’s a must have for locals in Southeast who commonly dub it the Alaskan tennis shoe. Did you know that Ketchikan holds the world record for the largest road race in rubber boots? Zach jokes that it’s a common occurrence to see wedding guests in a suit and a pair of XTRATUF® boots.

Whether you stop by the store to ask Chris about local fishing hot spots or need a pair of XTRATUF® boots to keep your feet dry on a rainy day, Tongass Trading Company is sure to have what you need.

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