Mt. Juneau Trading Post
Handmade in Alaska's capital
Providing handcrafted Alaska-made mementos for travelers and collectors
When a traveler visits an unknown place, there’s a desire to take a piece of it back home – something unique to remember the time they spent there.
In a typical year, nearly 2.25 million visitors make the trek to Alaska and cumulatively spend close to $2.2 billion during their stay. A traveler in Juneau will likely find themselves in the aisles of Mt. Juneau Trading Post.
Located in the historic Seward Building in the heart of Alaska’s capital city, the store specializes in offering original and unique locally made gifts, with an emphasis on supporting artists throughout Alaska and the northwest coast of Canada.
“People value what we do. We give artists a place to sell their art. We try to be good citizens in our community.”
A family operation
The Trading Post has a rich, multi-generational history. Owner and operator Jack Tripp runs the store with his family, who are of the Tlingit Nation and come from the Deisheetaan Clan (Raven/Beaver) from Angoon, Alaska. Tripp’s father opened the first iteration of the Trading Post in 1967 in Fairbanks before moving to Juneau in 1974.
Tripp took over the store in 1991. “It’s been 30-some years now. I’m the longest-standing operator of the store,” Tripp says with a laugh.
Tripp and his wife, Arlene, have seven children who all work in the store in some capacity except for one child who lives and works in Anchorage.
The Trading Post deals primarily in Alaska Native handcrafted items.
“It’s part of our thing—to support Alaska Native families and artists,” says Tripp.
Instead of trinkets and products cheaply made abroad, the shelves at Mt. Juneau Trading Post are lined with handmade goods. Tourists and locals alike stop by to purchase art and souvenirs designed and created by local artists. Masks, drums, totem poles and ivory carvings are all top sellers.
“Half of our merchandise is made in the store, or at least designed in the store,” Tripp says. The store also houses a workshop for artists stocked with equipment like band saws, cutting tools, sanders and just about anything else an artist would need to create. “It’s been stripped down some due to the pandemic, but artists can drop in and work on their projects.”
In the time of COVID-19
Normally, the store is open seven days a week, but like all other non-essential businesses, Mt. Juneau Trading Post had to close during the mandatory shutdowns at the start of the pandemic.
Tourists who had visited the Trading Post kept the shop in mind during the closures. “We’re lucky in that we have a very loyal clientele,” said Tripp.
For some visitors, their purchases go beyond just Alaska mementos. They buy art pieces with a collector’s eye.
Early on, Tripp received phone calls from customers around the country and began filling orders over the phone. “Folks were saying, ‘We’re not coming this year, Jack, but we’d like to buy some art!’”
Between phone and online sales, business at the Trading Post remained steady through the onset of the pandemic.
The Trading Post wasn’t the only thing passed down in the family. Tripp’s parents banked with First National, a relationship Tripp continues to this day.
When you run a small business, sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. The Trading Post’s close proximity to the branch in downtown Juneau makes visits a breeze.
“I really like my banker, Jay. He’s good people. The frontline workers at the branch are the friendliest,” said Tripp. “They work hard and I know they make sure the bank is available to take care of my financial needs.”
Loan Officer Jaysen Katasse ensures Tripp and the Trading Post are in good hands. “Jack was one of my first customers when I started working as a banker at First National,” said Katasse.
Not only did the two build a strong working relationship but a friendship has developed over the years. “I know Jack and his family well and look forward to stopping by to visit the shop.”
With its longstanding presence, Mt. Juneau Trading Post has become a valuable asset to the business community in downtown Juneau. The Trading Post gives back to the community through donated items for auctions and buying ads for the local sports teams.
“People value what we do,” said Tripp. “We give artists a place to sell their art. We try to be good citizens in our community.”
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