Many businesses in town, such a Refresh Spa and Salon, are offering special sales to entice customers with freshly issued PFD checks. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

October 2nd is the day several hundred thousand Alaskans who signed up for direct deposit received their Permanent Fund Dividend Checks. Some folks around Sitka seemed pretty excited about it, as KCAW’s Emily Kwong discovered. The atmosphere at Ernie’s Old Time Saloon was lively.

Downloadable audio.

KCAW: What is today in Alaska for people?

Pete, daytime bartender: Today is PFD day. A lot of people get checks today across the state. It’s pretty neat. It’s a lot of money that comes in. Definite boon for everybody in town.

KCAW: Have you seen any change in business since today?

Pete: I had two people here this time yesterday. Now it’s 15, 18, 20. Somewhere around that, now.

(Cheers from bar patrons)

But not everybody celebrates with their cash. Some people are philanthropic.

Customer at Larkspur Cafe: It’s a very nice chunk of money for people. Thank you Alaska. My mother passed away last year and I do receive her dividend as part of her estate. With that money, we’re going to donate half to the Sitka Cancer Survivors Society and half to Kettleson Memorial Library.

This year’s dividend was $1,884, the second highest in the history of dividend. In 2008, just before the recession, the all time high was $2,069. Although revenues from Alaska’s petroleum resource are routinely deposited in the fund, the total revenue picture is much more diverse. The largest stock holding in the permanent fund for instance is Apple.