Local News

Ferry gift shops to close

The gift shop on the ferry Kennicott is one of five to be closed this summer in a cost-cutting move. (Viking Travel/Alaska Ferry vacations.com)

The gift shop on the ferry Kennicott is one of five to be closed this summer in a cost-cutting move. (Viking Travel/Alaska Ferry vacations.com)

Alaska Marine Highway System officials plan to close gift shops on board state ferries.

Transportation Department Deputy Commissioner Rueben Yost says the shutdown will save about $1 million a year.

“The gift shops are nice, but it’s not part of our core mission of moving people and vehicles from one point to another. And over time, it’s become increasingly expensive,” he says.

Yost discussed the change at this week’s meeting of the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board.

Five larger mainline ferries have full shops. The two small fast ferries have limited gift items in their food-service areas.

Yost says a few necessities will remain on sale.

“We will address the need for toiletries and other commodities people may have forgotten to bring on the vessel by selling them in the cafeteria,” he says.

Those items will eventually be sold from vending machines. Ferry hats, T-shirts and similar “branded” products will be available online.

Yost says the shops will be phased out over the summer as the inventory is sold.

“It does involve 10 positions on the marine highway system. But the cashiers working in the gift shop have seniority. So ultimately, … rather than 10 people losing their jobs, there will be 10 less new people hired this summer,” he says.

There’s no immediate plan for how the shop rooms will be used.

Yost says labor contracts prohibit leasing the space to private businesses.


Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Governor declares disaster in Sitka, freeing up relief funds

On Friday, Governor Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration for Sitka, in response to seven landslides on August 18th. In a letter to the legislature, Walker said he would cap relief at $1 million for the moment, but that the incident is ongoing and total recovery costs are unknown. According to Gorman, the cost of emergency response alone is estimated to be over half a million dollars. Individual assistance and family grants are also available, at a cap of $16,450 per household. more

Source of large oil spill in ANB Harbor identified

The Coast Guard has determined the source of a large diesel spill that spread from Sitka Sound into ANB harbor yesterday morning (08-31-15). The source was a commercial vessel south of ANB Harbor, Since the spill wasn’t reported for several hours, the size could have been anywhere from 50 gallons to 300 gallons. That made clean-up difficult. more