The BuyAlaska Buzz
A Note from the Executive Sponsor
The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic first popped up, usually in connection with some terrible statistic or development. While the negative impacts of this virus shouldn’t be dismissed or diminished, I believe that when people look back at this period of our history to try and make sense of it all what they will focus on isn’t how bad things were, but how good we were to each other.

I remember watching events unfold early on when the first lockdowns and restrictions were put into place wondering how my neighbors and favorite businesses were going to survive all of this. It seemed like only a matter of minutes before my social media streams were full to bursting with people from all over the state coming together to find ways to help each other. Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, Instagram campaigns and more were launched overnight and quickly gained thousands of followers all with a common purpose: helping save the businesses that desperately needed our help. 

One of the driving reasons the organizations behind BuyAlaska were motivated to launch this program was to help support those efforts and that passion. We believe that small businesses are not only the heart of Alaska’s economy, but also what makes our communities so unique. BuyAlaska and our many supporters are committed to helping Alaskan businesses continue to serve those important roles by promoting a “buy local” philosophy, supporting local and regional buy local efforts, and sponsoring programs that help support businesses across the state.

With winter and the holiday season coming on fast, now is the time for all of us to come together and support the businesses we know and love. The little league sponsors, the charity donors, the community partners and the anchor businesses who have always been there for us when we needed them. Now it’s our turn to show them our appreciation by supporting them in their time of need.  

I hope that all of you will be inspired by what you read here and will join us in supporting BuyAlaska’s efforts to save Alaska's businesses. Together, we can make a difference.


Jon Bittner
Alaska SBDC Executive Director
Our Objective
BuyAlaska Partner Highlight
Made in Alaska, Britta Hamre on buying local 
Buying local has looked a little different this year yet, the challenges presented by COVID-19 have led to some amazing adaptations and innovations by local makers and manufacturers.

Alaskans have also adapted the ways in which we support local makers/manufacturers. Anchorage resident Justin Williams has built a significant social media following by reviewing area restaurants and encouraging folks to order take-out and explore new cuisines. A testament that we can still create new community connections despite not being able to gather.
This summer my neighborhood farmers market made the tough call to not open, but I was able to have access to locally farmed fruits and vegetables through a Community Supported Agriculture box. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the farmers market will be able to re-open in the future, but I also know that participating in the CSA made supporting local a routine fixture of my summer.

Holiday shopping is just around the corner and gives all of us an opportunity to celebrate, support and sustain Alaska’s local makers and manufacturers. When we patron local businesses we can foster a diverse and vibrant local economy that provides space for entrepreneurs to take risks, expand and produce quality products that we all can enjoy.
BuyAlaska is Here for Businesses
At BuyAlaska, we believe in elevating our businesses to their greatest potential. That is why BuyAlaska has partnered with FedEx, Quickbooks, Constant Contact, and Vojij to give Alaskan-owned businesses the resources they need to keep their business thriving.
From our Friends at FedEx
“Small businesses are the fabric of America. They drive innovation, spur economic growth and employ countless citizens across the country. Because of this, FedEx believes small businesses should be celebrated, rewarded and most of all supported so they can compete and win in today’s challenging environment. FedEx is excited at the opportunity to collaborate with BuyAlaska and assist local business owners through supply chain experts that can provide the information needed to help Grow Alaska.

FedEx has offered discounted shipping rates for BuyAlaska members.

Contact the BuyAlaska FedEx Representative, Tom Eller at and mention that you are a BuyAlaska member to ship your products for less!
With service to 220+ countries and territories and solutions that range from shipping, e-commerce technology, printing, packaging, marketplace collaborations and industry experts to support small business needs – our goal is to take the guesswork out of the supply chain and let you focus on growing your business. FedEx is committed to our involvement in the local community and we are appreciative of BuyAlaska providing us this forum to connect with the businesses of the future.”
Quickbooks knows that as a small business, you are always looking for extra help running your finances in an easy, efficient, and smart way.

That’s why they are now offering BuyAlaska members 40% off for the first 6 months on QuickBooks Online using this link!
Constant Contact
Constant Contact is your one stop shop for bringing your business online and marketing to customers digitally. Build a website, create branded emails, and sell your products all on a single platform. Constant Contact is offering a 20% monthly discount for BuyAlaska members. Use this link to sign up here!
Voyij is Alaska's e-commerce platform for small businesses, representing the largest selection of locally-sourced gifts and activities available from businesses across the State. Voyij helps small businesses quickly and easily sell online, offering a free, easy-to-use sales platform and providing hands-on e-commerce support to help you grow your online business. Many small businesses use Voyij as their only website; others use Voyij as an additional sales channel to support their existing efforts.
The goal at Voyij is to promote and celebrate Alaska’s vibrant small business community through online sales opportunities and we are thrilled to join forces with BuyAlaska to promote Alaska’s “shop local” efforts.
To learn more about how Voyij can help your business sell online, please contact Olivia by phone at 513-512-5946 (based in Skagway) or by email at
BuyAlaska Champions
Juneau Food Tours Delivers Alaska
It’s no secret that COVID 19 has been devastating to the travel and tourism industry. In response to the loss of business, and processing thousands of dollars in refunds, Midgi Moore, owner and Chief Eating Officer of Juneau Food Tours revived an idea to deliver Alaska to potential guests and visitors. She is very excited to announce Taste Alaska!, a subscription box filled with tasty Alaskan goodies, art, culture, and history items, as well as travel planning information. “Our motto is, ‘If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you!”, states Moore. What is most exciting for the company is the opportunity to partner with businesses throughout the state and to share more of Alaska with each new box.
To place an order, or talk about adding your product to future boxes, contact Midgi at, or visit the website,
Alaska Food Hub
The goal of the Alaska Food Hub is to provide opportunities for Cook Inlet Watershed producers and consumers to connect in a way that will create benefit for both, as well as strengthen the local economies, increase food security, and reduce the carbon footprint created by importing food.

The Alaska Food Hub provides locally produced food and products directly from our producers, connecting producers to consumers. We serve local consumers of all income levels and support sustainable, local, high-quality agricultural practices. We Provide a network for the production and distribution of locally prepared foods and locally made non-food products. We support an Alaska food system that in turn preserves the landscape, water, soil and air vital to a sustainable community
Visit to shop locally grown produce, seafood, meats, eggs, flowers, and more! Become a vendor and sell through the Alaska Food Hub.
 Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership 
In response to the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the Alaska MEP launched a brand new marketing workshop, Manufacturing Your Online Market.

The workshop is built to work in three easy steps to help strengthen marketing efforts and connect with new and old customers alike. The bundle includes step by step instructions on how to build or make updates to your existing e-commerce platform, a four-part marketing webinar series, and lastly a one-hour consultation with a marketing professional to discuss your specific business needs.  
The price of the bundle is $400 per business, allowing multiple employees to partake.

If you think your business could benefit from this service, register online at   
Let's hear it from our businesses
What shifts have you had to make in your business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic? 
In what ways does community & local support foster your business?

Alaskan Dames
Lisa Ibias
We have had to find ways to cater to our customers while coming up with creative ways to encourage social distancing. The biggest pivot we have made is developing and opening up an online store. During the 5-6 weeks Alaskan Dames was closed back in March, I created our online store and started adding as much inventory as I physically could to our website. Once we were back up and running again, it has become part of our processes to add all of our items to our website so that our customers can see all of what we have to offer. We add between 100-200 items every day to our website and offer a free local pick up option for our local customers as well as the option to ship to those that live elsewhere or who want items mailed to their door.
The local community has wholeheartedly embraced our online store and we see orders every day! I have also been very impressed with the level of patience and kindness we have seen from the community. As a result of the pandemic we are working with a smaller staff and have had to cut some of our opening hours. We also are only accepting consignments by appointment only to encourage social distancing. Everyone has been very gracious and understanding of all of our changes.

Green Alaska Solutions
Deborah O'Leary
We have shifted to providing more biodegradable and compostable to-go packaging for restaurants. We have also had significant fluctuations in packaging need, so we are remaining flexible and understanding that restaurants are going through a significant transition during this time. We are committed to providing what restaurants need to operate and offer their food in the safest way without generating a huge volume of non-renewable take-out containers. This has meant bringing in a huge volume of plant-based to-go containers to prevent supply disruptions due to the coronavirus and finding new sources of sustainable packaging that meets the secure packaging needs of the industry.
We are so appreciative for the continued support and commitment of our customers in using sustainable packaging even when revenues are down for them. Our customers are still committed to reducing the environmental impact of packaging. We continue to focus on keeping packaging prices down and sufficient supplies of food service disposables to meet our customers’ needs.

Hoodoo Brew
Bobby Wilken
We have pivoted our business in several ways in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with our customer’s health and needs in mind, and to keep our awesome employees working. We closed our Taproom and increased the size of our beautiful Biergarten for a great outdoor drinking experience. We increased our canning operations and began offering online ordering and curbside pickup to make it easy to bring HooDoo brew home, safely. Our favorite yearly beer releases that bookend summer (Maibock & Oktoberfest) had to be modified significantly to try to spread out the crowds and lines we typically experience.
Our community is what drives us. My wife and I are born and raised Fairbanksans, and we see our little brewery as performing a service to our community that we love so much: making and serving world-class beer with world-class service in a spotless, beautiful brewery right in the middle of town. Fairbanks has given us a great deal of support and trust from the day we opened in 2012 and we feel it is our responsibility to hold up our end of the bargain. We set the bar high for ourselves on opening day, and we are committed to holding that standard.

The Frame Shop 
Sarah Culbertson
When Covid hit The Frame Shop had just finished one of our big custom framing sales of the year at the beginning of March. I was lucky enough to have a working website that I regularly updated, so I went to work and got an online shop up and running and added a chat function so customers could contact me directly through the website. I immediately started advertising and posting about our business changes during the shutdown on Facebook and Instagram. Since customers could not come into the store, we offered delivery and artwork pick-ups as well a drop box outside of the shop. This was a HUGE amount of extra work. As things progressed and we reopened, I added a booking button to our website and Zoom links went out with the verification email so that customers could participate remotely. As of October almost all the changes we enacted are now working parts of our business.
Online ordering is so easy it is hard to draw customers out and into a brick and mortar business. We would not have survived this crazy summer if it wasn’t for our amazing Kodiak community, they showed their support in so many ways. My customers were so supportive when we were struggling through the stress and scramble of the first weeks of the shutdown, by giving us extra time to finish projects and making extra purchases to prop us up. Community members that I never saw in the shop made a point to search us out on Facebook and our website to make purchases, even though they were in the same boat we were, uncertain of the future. In short Kodiak is unique, but just as in any town without the support of our community and local spending we would not have survived and thrived as we have.
Far North

Bering Tea & Coffee
Kristine McRae  
When we decided to reopen in early May after having been closed for 6 weeks, Bering Tea & Coffee had no inside service. In order to reopen safely, we developed a window service so people on the main street could order from outside, and got a handheld POS for contactless payments. We also developed an app so people could order through the app and pick it up. Now that winter is coming, it won’t be safe or feasible for people to order from the street, so we are modifying our inside area to be partitioned to have a standing ordering area. These reopening modifications took about 1.5 more staff to be on shift at all times. I thought it would be easier, and in reality, we actually needed more staff. 
Even though Nome didn't see the number of travelers we usually have, the community has really kept us going. People came back and have become regulars again. The community has recognized our needs and stepped up. For instance, when our annual bulk order of Iditarod coffee arrived yet Nome did not receive the number visitors for the Iditarod that we usually sell to, the community purchased every bag of coffee we had. Even when we were closed, our community continued to connect with us on social media and through a subsistence photo giveaway contest we recently did. This support has shown the true camaraderie and strength of community in these times. 
How to Get Involved with BuyAlaska
BuyAlaska is a multi-stakeholder initiative housed by the Alaska SBDC. Organizations and individuals statewide are welcome to join us in finding ways to elevate our economy. 

If you haven’t already, opt-in as a BuyAlaska member (it's free to join) and we’ll email you when we have news, updates, and opportunities to support local businesses. Share the link with your social networks and help us get ‘The Buzz’ out about the benefits of buying local!

The BuyAlaska logo serves as a reminder to think Local First. Show your support for small businesses and visit our website at the bottom of to get your free download of: 

  • The BuyAlaska Seal
  • The ‘I BuyAlaska’ email signature
  • BuyAlaska’s custom Zoom background

We want to hear from you. Consumers - what works for you to shop small? Business Owners - tell us how BuyAlaska can best serve you. Take our We Love Local survey to give us your input. 

Alaska’s small local businesses deserve a lot of love and we want to share with the world how great they are. Follow us on the BuyAlaska social media channels and get in on the conversation!
BuyAlaska Partners