With the coming of spring, a crop of new tourism-related businesses and attractions are springing up to match.
Some of those businesses, while not explicitly cruise-related, will begin or extend their operations around the start of the cruise season in early May.
Patti Mackey, president of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, said that the wave of new operations could be a result of growing numbers of cruise ship passengers.
“The fact that we hit a million visitors last year, and the fact that it looks like we’re going to stay up in that range for the next few seasons, has probably encouraged people,” she said. “Or they’ve been working on plans and now they’re finally ready to launch them.”
City of Ketchikan Department of Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon estimated Monday that the total number of passengers arriving in Ketchikan this summer would top 1.04 million. If that is the case, 2018 will see another record-breaking season. That’s good news for businesses.
Allen Marine Lines
Coinciding with the start of the cruise season, Allen Marine Lines is launching its fifth Ketchikan tour. The 3.5-hour tour includes a wildlife cruise and a tour of the historic George Inlet Cannery. At the cannery, tour-goers will encounter exhibits dedicated to various aspects of seafood production — such as seining or diving — and have the opportunity to try related seafood at each stop, with food provided by the Cape Fox Lodge. The tour is fittingly called Alaska Seafood Tasting, Wildlife Cruise & Historic Cannery. Tours begin May 3.
Frontier Shipping Express
Frontier Shipping Express, a downtown satellite office for Frontier Shipping, is planned to open in May for the summer. Located at 432 Dock St., the office will focus on shipping store-bought items for tourists and stores. Co-owner Christy Johnson said that the business’s hours are likely to coincide with the cruise ship schedule.
Several other businesses plan to stay open year round:
Gateway Car Rental
Carrie James-Dodson said that she decided to open Gateway Car Rental this year after noticing a demand for the service. James-Dodson co-owns the business and its six rental cars with her two kids. She plans to run the business out of her home, with customers making appointments online or over the phone. She said it will to cater to both tourists and ferry visitors from neighboring communities. Discounts will be available to locals, including Prince of Wales Island and Metlakatla residents. The business, which is planned to open Monday, will be accessible at gatewaycarrental.com.
Inside Passage Brewing Co.
Ketchikan is currently without a brewery, but the arrival of Inside Passage Brewing Co. will soon change that. Owner Sean Heismann said that he aims to open the microbrewery, located on the first floor of the Welsh Whiteley Architects building at 325 Bawden St., in early May. The business will focus on providing beer to local restaurants and bars. It will have a tasting room and retail store on site as well. Heismann said that he chose to open the brewery in May to capitalize on Ketchikan’s tourism season, but that the brewery will remain open year round and cater mainly to locals.
“Of course, it would be foolish not to try to get some of the tourist dollars, too,” Heismann said. “But without community buy-in during, you know, October to April, this kind of place really [wouldn’t] survive.”
Niblick’s General Store
Niblick’s General Store first opened its doors in December, but the downtown shop will begin operating for regular, everyday hours on May 1. Named after a nickname for owner Andy Zink’s grandfather, the store sells a variety of durable, reusable, fair-trade and U.S.-made items, including home goods, apparel and toys. Zink said that he was motivated to open a store in part by crowds of summer visitors outside his downtown residence.
“It’s hard to not kind of get sucked in,” he said. “I observe all the boats coming in and can see them from my house every summer. And I kind of wanted to be part of that, too.”
But Zink said he also wanted to make sure that his store was open year-round, even if only for limited hours. He explained that the community is interested in having year-round shops downtown, and that he appreciates the culture of mutual-support among those businesses. Niblick’s General Store is located at 625 Mission St.
Wacker City Bike Rentals
Located on Ward Cove’s Mill Alley, Wacker City Bike Rentals will serve tourists and locals alike. Owner Deborah Dale said that the location was ideal because it’s situated near various cycling opportunities, including Revilla Road. Wacker City Bike Rentals is planned to open May 1, and will operate 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Dale is currently developing a website, which will be available at wackercitybikerentals.com.