Alaska Teacher Placement
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Shopping & Shipping Tips for Rural Alaska - 2016

This is the place to find favorite shopping tips, and strategies. Most of these have come from discussions and experiences reported in the ATP Forum over the years. Each of us have our favorite little things we have discovered over the years, and new options are popping up all the time. None of the links here are "endorsed".

Some of these are common knowledge in rural teaching circles. All are proven time and money savers, and should help make your adjustment to rural Alaska a great deal easier.

This is simply a starter list of tips and tricks for shopping in rural Alaska.

Important Basics

  1. Use the ATP Forum to search for the latest tips and to ask questions!
  2. Research your community and shipping alternatives before you make major purchases. There will be many options, but in general US Mail is the least expensive, and very reliable.
  3. No matter your preferred airline, know your airline luggage limits, as excess baggage fees can really add up.
  4. Alaska Airlines has among the most reasonable baggage rates, including 3 free bags on their flights within Alaska, and best pet safety policies in the industry.
  5. If flying Alaska Airlines, join "Club 49" using your new village address for two free bags into and out of Alaska, and check their special rates for sporting equipment and firearms.

Alaska Airlines Baggage Policy, & Fees:

Alaska Airlines Bag Rules Chart

You REALLY need your Club 49 card, and to fly Alaska Airlines on the way up. But, even if you don't join Club 49 right away, the rules are better on Alaska Air for in state travel to the regional hubs (verified as still current as of July 24, 2016). Alaska Airlines will charge non-Club 49 members per bag into and out of Alaska: 1st Bag $25 (USD) one way, 2nd Bag $25, 3rd Bag $75, (50 lbs). However, for in-state travel ONLY, your first three (3) bags are free, and the 4th bags and up are $75 each. If the bag is overweight (51-100lbs), it's $75. Of course, this doesn't apply beyond your Alaska Airlines "hub" city (Bethel, Nome, Barrow, etc.). If you change to a smaller "bush" airline, they treat the "excess" bag(s) differently.

  1. You may want to mail your suitcases from Anchorage, and travel with boxes or coolers of meat and/or other perishables, as you never know how long the mailed boxes will be sitting in frigid airline cargo spaces or overheated storage units.
  2. Know how to pack to meet the U.S. Postal shipping requirements
  3. The Airport Post Office in Anchorage is no longer open 24 hours – Now closed from midnight – 6:00 a.m. and holidays!
  4. Combine your orders with other teachers. Before ordering large quantities food and other merchandise from outside the village check around and find others that need some like items. Today there is lot of merchandise that you can purchase from the warehouse stores that comes in packages (example canned fruit and vegetables in 12 packs) that can be shared among several people saving all of you some hard earned money.
Bypass Shipping: Speaking of going together on large orders, did you know that a large majority of the rural schools and grocery stores ship using the USPS "Bypass Mail Service" to send their frozen meat and vegetables, chilled and dry groceries? It's cheaper then air freight, usually faster and all the merchandise gets delivered to your home or school. Bypass mail saves you money. All you need to do is have a mininum amount of 1100 lbs, (the average families order from Sam's Club is usually around 325 lbs) use a approved bypass mail contractor. This service is availble to almost every village in Alaska. Go to USPS Bypass Mail for further information or contact your local post office.

Bush Shopping Strategies

Although things have improved dramatically in terms of rural Alaska shopping options since the 1980's and early 1990's, your first year or two in the Bush is still going to go more smoothly if you plan ahead!

There are several basic approaches you can follow to prepare for you first year. Which one is right for you depends partially on what village you are headed to, the size and composition of your family, and your consumption habits and patterns.

You have three basic choices for how you order your basic items: traditional grocery shippers; on-line retailers, or do-it-yourself shopping trips to Anchorage or Fairbanks.

As you decide which of these methods to choose, remember that Anchorage and Fairbanks are both very expensive places to stay during the summer tourist season. During June through August, make sure you calculate a value into your cost equation that includes at least $130 per night for a hotel, the cost of a car or van rental at about $65 or more per day, postage, tape and mailing boxes or tubs.

No matter what option you use, check what your vendor charges to ship your purchases to your village. Shipping can range from the actual cost by mail with no handling fee to handling and air freight charges that total several times the actual purchase cost of what you are buying! Always compare costs on shipping carefully between stores or websites.

Option 1: Order Your Staples & Supplement!


  • Relatively easy
  • Reliable
  • No shortage of choices
  • Cheapest overall option
  • Safest if you don't know area


  • Significant initial purchase cost
  • Trial & error until you learn
  • Planning efficiently takes practice
  • Shipping options confusing

Fred Meyer Alaska Bush Orders

Some teachers place a large order of basics before coming to Alaska, usually through one of the major bulk Bush grocery shippers like Span Alaska (now owned by parent company of AC Stores)(see below) (hint: mail order prices are high but barge orders are reasonable but only sail in the summer), and then buy things to supplement as needed. This can be used in combination with the Guerilla Shopping Experience below.

Smart teachers want to shop at the Anchorage Costco and Sams Club so they can see what selection and brands they carry. By shopping their own orders they save money and get more of what they want. They then leave the purchased merchandise at the warehouse store and leave instructions to have one of the local expeditors package and send their merchandise out to them. Always ask the store supervisors which expeditor they would suggest to use.

Prices are generally not bad if you order in bulk. If you order from a catalog or one of the on-line services, you might be able to save more money than those who buy only from the local store or a regional hub.

The trade off is you need to spend some time figuring what you really use and need that will not spoil in transit. (Check on bypass mail rates for 1000 lbs or more) You can only carry frozen meat or other perishables a few times a year, but you can order the non-perishable staples (rice, pasta, canned goods, boxed prepared foods, Halloween candy, etc.) ahead of time at great savings.

Option 2: The Guerilla Shopping Experience


  • Personal selection of items and brands
  • Save shipping expenses (see caveat below)
  • Bush shopping options abound in Anchorage!
  • Quick delivery if you take to P.O. or carrier
  • Can carry fresh produce & meat


  • Physically & emotionally draining on newbies!
  • Still a significant initial purchase cost
  • Summer hotels prices in Anchorage
  • Need to rent a car or van, get boxes, tape, etc.
Walmart Dimond Center - Bush Order

Randy & Lynne's Cooler -- Well Used!

Some long time teachers in the Bush swear by Guerilla Shopping, and I have personally spent many an hour engaged in this rather unique activity. Even if you do order the basics ahead of time, you'll want to know the rough Guerilla Shopping techniques, as you will find yourself in Anchorage or Fairbanks or another regional hub at one time or another.

Seasoned Bush residents always travel with tape, markers and perhaps even labels to make sure that no opportunity to fill a box or cooler goes wasted!

The Usual Scenario

You are either on an overnight layover in Anchorage or Fairbanks, and have only a few hours to buy as much as possible. You know you will return to the village for a couple months, maybe longer, without another chance to get fresh stuff or necessities at prices like this. What's a guy or gal to do?

Well, here is a very quick list of tips that nearly all ATP Forum threads on the subject share:

  • Shop with a plan or a list, or you'll be ineffective!
  • Rubbermaid tubs, zip ties for lids, packing tape and Sharpie markers – have them with you.
  • Keep packing and/or shipping limits in mind at all times. Pack as you shop if possible.
  • Mail suitcases – you need fresh produce and fresh meat more! Make your mailing labels before you leave home, have tape!
  • Coolers are useful as luggage both in the summer to chill, and in the winter to protect produce from cold. No ice allowed, but frozen veggies work.

John's Shopping Tips

These are our family's tips for shopping while in Anchorage or a hub city for an hour, a day or a week. We always travelled prepared to shop, and preferred to guerilla shop, pack and ship things ourselves most of the time as compared to have a vendor do it for us. I can only think of perhaps a handful of times we used the thir party shippers at Costco, Sam's or had Walmart ship our things. Those were cases where slogging it out packing in the parking garage, or out at the airport was simply not possible due to a close connection or something. Not everybody wants to do this, and our tips may not work for you. But, it's a process and a toolkit that most rural Alaskans we knew either did parts of, or had their own strategy to accomplish. You will see people doing this all over Anchorage or Fairbanks - outside stores, in the parking lots, at the post office. Here is a short overview of what we recommend to newbies who ask.

  • Have one or two harpie permanent markers in your carryon
  • A few sheets of blank paper or pre-printed labels with your address are a godsend when in a hurry.
  • Always over label bags with contact info & warnings. If fresh produce, mark "Chill", or if meat / fish, mark "Freeze". This is in case one of your bags doesn't make flight.
  • Travel with a portable luggage scale. Over limit fees are horrible!
  • A rolling cooler is always one of our pieces of luggage. We prefer the Igloo Cube.
  • Always have a roll of good clear tape, and a roll of duct tape. Do not leave tape in the car when it's cold.
  • Have some kind of tote. The Rubbermaid Roughnecks & Home Depot Tough Box (27 gallon size) are our favorites, but we still often just ask for free apple boxes from Carr's each trip.
  • Apple boxes are best for soda, as they are sturdy, wax impregnated against moisture, and just the right weight with 4 12-packs of soda & four 2-liter bottles.
  • Pack as you go, but stick with your list!
  • If using totes, have the holes pre-drilled before you go. Carry good zip ties to close them.
  • Non-perishables are cheapest to mail. We used the Airport Post Office. Never used air freight for dry goods.
  • Nearly always mailed our luggage and/or clothes back from "Town", and used our baggage allowance for fresh stuff & things we needed.
  • Always bring a treat for whoever you left behind. I always, always, always brought a dozen roses, and a takeout dinner every time I returned.

John's Guerilla
Shopping / Travel Tips
Apple Boxes for
Home Depot Tough Box - The stack
AND zip tie
Packing for the
post office and airport run. Detergent with tape and a
Two cubes stacked
& ready to roll

Shopping On-line

On-line shopping is probably the method most Bush teachers use to buy things. Don't buy stuff guerilla shopping that you are better off getting from Amazon or Walmart. Amazon Prime is your best friend! For a while they didn't offer free shipping to rural Alaska, but they do now. Remember that Prime means free 2-day shipping in the Lower 48. Up here, it means "fast as humanly possible", so don't expect it two solar cycles. Some things may be free from one Amazon vendor, but not others. Be careful.

Walmart online ships most things free if it's over $49. There are also Bush shipping departments for the all major grocery and dry goods chains in Alaska (Fred Meyers / Walmart, etc.), as as some specialty grocers that serve the Bush. And there are shopping services in Anchorage which will walk the isles for you, or pick up your orders at Costco or Sam's and ship them out.

It's important to shop carefully to make sure you don't end up paying hidden shipping fees when shopping with on-line vendors. Sometimes you will find a great special on-line, only to be told upon checkout that shipping "outside the United States", or "outside the Continental United States" is not possible.

Although everyone has their favorites, some of the best on-line sources for rural Alaskan are those that periodically offer free or reduced shipping.

The list of recommended sources at the bottom of the page will have many more shopping resources that Bush residents use.

Please try to make in state purchases when ever possible. It's good for the state economy and it shows the community that you as a teacher care for Alaska and support the people that live here.

Buying Bulk Groceries

Many people buy their bulk groceries just a few times a year. A common approach in coastal villages, or along major rivers is to order a few large shipments by barge from Seattle or Anchorage.

There are some communities, however, where placing a major order for the year results in significant savings, so check with your district before you go.

On Atka Island in the Aleutians, for instance, there used to be just one or two barges a year. There was no dock (there is a dock now), and if you missed that arrangement, you were limited in what you could have sent on the one mail flight a week.

It was essential for teachers on Atka to coordinate grocery shipments well in advance. There are fewer communities with these limits than there used to be, but make sure you ask your district before you make assumptions. Some other communities in the Aleutians get weekly barges all winter, and you can even order fresh produce all winter. So, it really is essential to ask questions before you shop.

Shopping for a big order once, twice or three times a year is a bit of an art. Maybe someone will post tips to this page on the best way to estimate quantities. You will make mistakes. Count on it, and just assume there will be a margin of error to your calculations the first year.

There are several alternatives for bulk items that depend on what strategy you are using – the three basic approaches are traditional grocery shippers, on-line retailers, or spending the time and money to shop for a few days in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

One alternative that some seasoned teachers (Save money by using Bypass Mail Service) use is to pool their orders together and then send then all to Anchorage store. The store pulls each order, charges each person for their merchandise. A expeditor picks up all the orders together. And all the packages will be sent out together. The bypass mail service has a min weight requirement of 1100 lbs, you can send all groceries including dry, chill and freeze. (Cheaper then air freight) You usually get all the merchandise delivered right to your house or school. Call one of the expeditors listed on this page for further information. Try Express Yourself Expeditors or JB Bush.

For buying your staples, or the things you know you are going to need over the year, it is wise to think big. The bigger the quantity you order, the lower you cost.

One of the most common misconceptions about the cost of living in Alaska is based on the idea that the local store price of core grocery items are what teachers actually pay. They usually don't pay those prices, except when they run out of something, or want to splurge.

Most teachers don't buy a jar of Ragu at the local Alaska Commercial store, but order a couple of cases of Ragu from a catalog, on-line, or when they are in "town" and can pack and ship themselves.

Getting Fresh Produce - Specialists

You can use the fresh produce "specialty" shippers. Some are subscription services where you sign up for weekly or bimonthly boxes of whatever is available fresh. Some are more of a locally fresh experience. Some organic. Some sort of organic. Or, you can use any of the major shopping sites in Alaska listed below (Fred Meyers, etc.) to shop for groceries and fresh veggies. Or, you can use the expeditor / shopping services listed on this page. Whatever you think, though, it is no longer necessary for you and your family to do without. Get your fresh produce. It's worth every penny, and is getting fresher and less expensive to obtain.

Surprisingly, many Alaskans use coolers to travel with fresh produce, but not to keep them cold. Quite the opposite! The coolers protect lettuce and other fragile produce items for a short while from the extreme cold in the plane's hold, belly pod or wing locker and when the winter temperatures arrive.

Check with people at your site if they have Full Circle Farms, Meyers Farms, or other produce "box service" subscription deliveries, and how they like them. Full Circle and their compeitors ship in produce weekly on different schedules depending on what you ask for.

Fresh Produce Specialist Examples

Full Circle Farms

Full Circle Farm, based out of the Seattle area since 2006, has a monthly organic grocery subscription service to many villages in Alaska. Some sources say they have 100 village locations, but I was only able to find 34 on their website.  There may be more. The list seems to change quite a bit, because each village has to have volunteers to meet and coordinate deliveries. So check with their location page to see about availability and pricing.

Here is what I found, but I have also read blogs from villages not on this list who have said they have Full Circle delivery.    

Saint Michael
Brevig Mission
Pilot Station
White Mountain
Russian Mission

St. Mary's

The monthly subscription example below is using a zip code for Unalakleet as of July 21, 2016. I lived in Unalakleet, and when I used Full Circle, the price of the "next to the largest" box was about the same as it is now - $67.50. I called while writing this and confirmed that this chart shows the actual "landed" or delivered price in Unalakleet. Each village has a few folks who track shipments, meet the plane and take the boxes to a central distribution point - often the school.

Full Circle Example - Unalakleet

The way it works is that you sign up online for a box size level from trendy sounding names (Seed, Sprout, Garden or Harvest) and their staff determine what is freshest and makes a nice selection for you each week they ship. You do get an email telling you what is going to be coming up, and you can use your online account to make adjustments. You also have some options that you can set as "never send me". If you want additional items, they have an online store, and you add $1.75 per pound shipping for those you combine with your regular order.

Some teachers swear by Full Circle, and the weekly shipments are the buzz in the teacher lounge at the school. Others I know have found them a bit expensive, and instead use Fred Meyers for organic shipments within Alaska, or other grocery services. Each to their own. Regardless, Full Circle seemed to me like a good company to deal with, and they had pretty decent customer service. Worth noting is that signing up for their Facebook page will result in discount coupons for your first order. Other discounts for new customers are frequently found online with a quick search.

Meyers Farm

Although they don't serve the entire state, Meyers Farm has a fascinating back story, an excellent reputation for reasonable pricing, good service, and a focus on using Alaska-grown products. Myers has many teacher customers in villages throughout the Y-K Delta area.  The owners use advanced cold frame and other technologies to raise veggies all year in Bethel.

Meyers Farm - Bethel, Alaska

Here is a quick list of villages that likely fall into the Meyers Farm delivery area:

Hooper Bay
Nunam Iqua
Pilot Station
Red Devil
Russian Mission
Bethel (Meyers Farm)
St. Mary's
Lower Kalskag
Scammon Bay
Crooked Creek
Mt. Village
Toksook Bay
Holy Cross

I contacted the owners, and they told me that they ship to villages on the Yukon River,  those on the Kuskokwim River, and those coastal villages that are part of the Y-K Delta area.   I generated the list above because that means Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), Yupiit School District, Kuspuk School District, and Lower Yukon School District (LYSD) villages.  If in doubt, you can reach Tim and Lisa Meyers by email and find out for sure (

Dairy Products

Back in the old days, we had to use powdered milk most of the time. The most common brand, still commonly used in the Bush, was called "Milkman". Things changed with the introduction of sterilized, shelf safe milk in the early 90's.

Real Milk

If you order several cases of sterilized, shelf safe "Real Milk" in pint containers, the cost is not all that outrageous. It will be more expensive than a grocery store in Pittsburgh or Minneapolis, but the net cost is not all that much higher than in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Whole Milk

Whole milk is far easier to get than it once was, but is still quite expensive by Lower 48 standards. A gallon of milk in some village stores can be over $12, and you need to watch those expiration dates. But, a gallon of whole milk at Fred Meyers on-line today is $2.99, plus shipping.

Gallons of milk are treated like perishable produce for shipping purposes.

And, contrary to what my mother told me, yes, you can freeze milk!

Powdered Milk

When I first moved up to Alaska, my family could only get "Milkman", a powdered milk substitute that you mix with water. There really is no need to do this to yourself any longer, and I don't recommend it. Some friends of mine STILL order it. Go figure.

Wine, Beer, Liquor & Marijuana

Alcohol shipping can very tricky, this is one item that is important to get right, as making a mistake can land you in serious legal trouble!

Under the "Local Option" rules of the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (ABC), many Alaskan communities are "dry" or "damp". They also vary in rules for marijuana posession and use.

In "dry" villages alcohol sale or posession is illegal. In "damp" villages the sale alcohol is illegal, but residents can possess it. Anchorage and Fairbanks liquor stores have to follow the AMCO rules for creating an account , and track shipments to local residents. You usually have to set up an account in person with an Alaska state driver's license showing address, or they will not ship any to you. In addition, some villages that do allow alchol possession have very specific limits on how much you can bring in each month, or other controls on possession and consumption. A "wet" village has no legislated restrictions on alcohol sale or consumption.

* Alaska Alcohol Local Option List - Download the latest here.

Cannabis rules are new as of spring of 2016, but in general marijuana is legal statewide in Alaska. Except where it isn't. ;-) Much like alcohol, some local communities have added restrictions for local options regarding use and posession. However, teachers work for school districts that in some cases have drug testing rules in their negotiated agreement, and do not allow teachers to use marijuana due to federal regulations. I would tread very carefully, and seek clarification from district staff prior to use, no matter whether your new community is on the Local Option list below or not.

* Alaska Marijuana Local Option List - Download the latest here.

Do villages take these rules seriously? Very much so. Some search all visitors on arrival at the air strip. Others do not search arrivals. But, even if others in a "dry" village drink, as a school employee your behavior is scrutinized very carefully in the community.

alcohol control

Fair Warning!

Alcohol abuse in rural Alaska is a significant problem, and you need to be sensitive to this when considering a move. Drinking alcohol where it's illegal, or smuggling alcohol into a village will at a minimum reduce your effectiveness in that community, and could create re-certification problems. It will probably cost you your job. Oh, and you could also be arrested and fined. Don't even think about it. If alcohol or nightlife are really important to you, please think about going somewhere else.

Don't buy from bootleggers, or make "homebrew" from yeast in a dry village. And, never, ever, ever send alcohol through the mail to a village! This will get you arrested. Make sure that your friends and relatives back home don't decide to send you any wine or spirits as a gift!

Are There Options in Damp Communities?

Yes! If it's legal to drink alcohol in the community you move to, you do indeed have some options. Shipping glass is expensive by air freight, so some prefer to buy cans of beer rather than bottles, or boxed wine instead of bottled.

It's easiest to order while you are in town, but if you have an account set up in advance - and in person - liquor stores can ship to you by air freight. It must be marked as alcohol, and the stores are very careful, and require an account on file, photo identification, and original signatures on all orders that must match the ID for you they have on file. Faxed orders are not possible.

Once you have an account established with a liquor store (see link above), there is still a monthly maximum on the amount they will send to you that depends on which community you live in.

Why is it so difficult? The potential for abuse is high. A single illegal bottle of cheap vodka, for example can sell for $100 or more profit in some villages.

Hazardous Materials Shipping

Many people don't realize how some common household chemicals and products can be considered hazardous, but they are by air carriers. These items can almost only be obtained locally in the village store, or have to arrive by barge.

Some villages, of course, don't have barge service, and most do not have this option in the winter months.

Examples of difficult things to ship out to the Bush:

  • Household bleach
  • Household cleansers (some kinds)
  • Paint
  • Propane
  • PAM cooking spray
  • Alcohol (see section above)

Shopping & Shipping Services

There are several small companies in Anchorage that serve Bush residents by offering shopping and shipping services.

JB Bush Expeditors (800-478-7234, fax 243-5744, or just email your list to – They generally shop Sam's Club and Costco. If you want to shop at Sam's yourself, you can leave your items in your cart and they'll take care of it from there. No website, no catalog. Fees vary depending on whether you place your order with them or do the shopping yourself or have Sam's do the shopping.

Express Yourself Expeditors ( – provides shopping, packaging and shipping services to people that live and work in rural Alaska. Specializing in Costco Wholesale/Sam's Club merchandise, they offer three different service levels: Self-shops (you shop yourself), Express Yourself Shops for you or you have Costco or Sams Club do the shopping for you. They offer shipping by parcel post (cheapest method for non-perishables), air freight (for perishables and oversize items) and Bypass Mail for larger or group orders. If you will be shopping at Costco Wholesale/Sam's Club and would like them to ship your merchandise then when you go to pay for your merchandise, just ask the cashier for an Express Yourself order form. You will need to fill it out and leave it with your merchandise. Express Yourself will then pick it up, inventory the order, package and then deliver to the carrier of your choice. Fees vary depending on service requested. Questions, call 1-800-248-4419, Mon-Fri (9am-5pm). Pay by major credit/debt card or bank transfer. They are a USPS-approved Bypass Mail Contractor.

Mailbox Groceries Alaska ( – Your #1 online grocery store covering all of Alaska. Our new online catalog with over 1800 items was developed just for busy people like yourself. It's easy to find things, with major brands, the right sizes and fair prices. We are your connection to Anchorage. All listed prices* for non-perishable merchandise include the new postage rate (parcel post) delivered to zip codes 995,996 and 997. All listed prices* on freeze, chill and over size items include delivery to Ted Stevens Intl. Airport only. They do not include any transportation from Anchorage to your location. Our friendly customer service staff will be happy to make all air freight arrangements to have your merchandise delivered to your location. Any questions give us a call 1-800-248-4419, Mon-Fri (9am-5pm). Pay by Quest card, major credit/debt cards and bank transfers. (*merchandise prices are subject to change without notice)

Anchorage: Grocery Stores

Carr's, of course, the Safeway of Alaska. All over Anchorage.

Carr's - There are Carr's supermarkets all around Anchorage, and they are part of the Safeway chain. Your Safeway discount card from the Pacific Northwest or California will work fine at Carr's. Because our topic is intendded for teachers either flying out, or shipping groceries, I'll only list the Aurora Village location here. This is the cloest to the airport, a clean, well stocked store, and has a back route out Northern Lights to the air cargo places, and the Airport Post Office.

Carr's Aurora Village
1650 W Northern Lights Blvd
Anchorage, AK 99517
Hours: 24 hours

New Sagaya Markets

New Sagaya is home to a fantastic selection of Asian grocery needs. Also perhaps the best store in the state for buying really good, fresh seafood. Located just south of Old Seward and 36th and also on the corner of Minnesota and 13th, I think. Not a store you'd expect to find in Alaska. More of a Seattle or Bay Area feel.

New Sagaya Website:

New Sagaya Midtown Market
3700 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99503

New Sagaya City Market Downtown
900 West 13th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501

Anchorage: Meats & Seafood

Mr. Prime Beef
7521 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, Alaska 99518

Simply the best butcher shop in Anchorage. Many Bush teachers will order from nowhere else, inlcuding the webmaster at ATP. These guys will pack your order (with a day or two notice) to travel as baggage, or ship out to the Bush. Great weekly specials that are only available for pickup. Excellent quality meats, poultry and seafood. Recommended.

Anchorage: General Merchandise

Costco & Sam's Club Membership Warehouse

Although there are multiple locations for both these chains in Anchorage, I am only listing the ones closest to Midtown and airport.

Costco Dimond location – South Anchorage, very near Dimond Center Mall, and a Sam's Club.
330 W Dimond Blvd
Anchorage, AK 99515

Sam's Club #6601 – South Anchorage, across the street from Dimond Center Mall, and very close to Costco.
8801 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99515-2021
Fax: 907-344-6509

Like Sam's Clubs anywhere, and they have a great Bush Order Department that takes orders on the web, by phone or in person.

Walmart Stores

In addition to Walmart's excellent online ordering and shipping options (orders over $50 ship free?), one of the two in Anchorage also does Bush orders. There are two Walmart stores in Anchorage, but the one near Dimond Center Mall also has a Bush Order department. They indeed also have a Bush Order Pharmacy at this location.

Prices and selection at Alaska's Walmart stores are mostly the same as other Pacific Northwest Walmart stores. There may be minor price difference, but for the most part, you can shop at the Walmart back home to get product part numbers and prices, and then submit your order to the Anchorage store on your way through town to have things shipped via their Bush Order department. This is very useful if you are only going to be in Anchorage overnight, or for a short time.

Wal-Mart South charges you a set percentage fee (plus shipping) if you have them pack and ship your order. Don't forget that Walmart online has free shipping on most orders of $49.

Wal-Mart South Anchorage (Near Dimond Center Mall)
8900 Old Seward Hwy
Anchorage AK 99515
(907) 344-5300
(800) 833-2874

Wal-Mart Mid Town (Near Sears Mall) – Does not do bush orders.
3101 A Street
Anchorage AK 99503
(907) 563-5900

Anchorage: Fast Food Fixes

Some takeout pizza, Chinese food, or Subway sandwiches are a real treat thing to hand carry back on the plane, or have delivered for a mid-winter pick-me-up. Here are some of our favorites:

Pappa Murphy's Pizza
1231 West Northern Lights Blvd
(907) 274-7272
Note: Pappa Murphy's also has an excellent Facebook page where you can get discounts, and set up Bush orders of pizza to your vilage. We have done this many times by getting together with other staff for a Friday treat. And, we've done student fundraisers using Pappa Murphy's pies.

Moose's Tooth Pizza
3300 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, Alaska
907-258-2537 – Allow an hour for orders!

Very, very popular California style pizza & brew pub with an amazingly poor website. They have great pizza, and a funky atmosphere. Recommended. Huge lines, but worth the wait!

Pizza Olympia
2809 Spenard Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503
(907) 561-5264

Great pizzas & Greek food! Located right across from REI, and not far from the airport. Their complete menu is online.

» Little known fact: You can duct tape two large pizzas together, and make a handle out of tape. This, or almost any fast food fix, can be a "carry on" for your flight to the village.

Anchorage: Liquor Stores

Brown Jug Warehouse
4140 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, Alaska

Fairbanks: General Merchandise

Sam's Club #6603
48 College Rd.
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Fax: 907-451-4814

Walmart Stores

Prices and selection at Alaska's Walmart stores are mostly the same as other Pacific Northwest Walmart stores. There may be minor price difference, but for the most part, you can shop at the Walmart back home to get product part numbers and prices, and then submit your order to the Anchorage store on your way through town to have things shipped via their Bush Order department. This is very useful if you are only going to be in Anchorage overnight, or for a short time.

Wal-Mart Fairbanks – Bush Order
537 Johansen Expressway
Toll Free: 877-451-9921
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Fax: 907-451-9930

On-line: Grocery Stores

Mailbox Groceries – Anchorage based Bush grocery company with a website for on-line orders. Prices include postage within Alaska.

Sam's Club On-line Bush Orders – Bush order desk for Sam's Club. Prices subject to handling fee, plus shipping.

Span Alaska Sales – The best known of the Alaska Bush grocery shipping companies. They're based out of Washington state, and all prices include postage within Alaska.

Amazon Groceries – Amazon ships groceries. If you are an Amazon Prime Member, or set up regular shipments, it's even better.

Fred Meyer Groceries – Good prices and a great variety. Shipping charges are high for fresh or frozen.

On-line: Meats & Seafood

Mikes Quality Meats – Wholesale Meats

On-line: General Merchandise – You can find just about anything here, and if you order more than $25 of goods, shipping is FREE(!!!) and surprisingly fast. – For toiletries, vitamins, household cleaners, etc., this is the place to shop – prices are very competitive. Free shipping when your order is over $50, but beware that their shipping is very slow, sometimes taking up to 10 weeks.

On-line: Pet Supplies

There are a couple of PETCO stores in Anchorage, but their website does also ship to Alaska. I personally didn't use them, though, as I typically shipped dog food out using these guys:

Alaska Mill and Feed – This pet supply store has a good variety of dog and pet food, and low shipping costs.

On-line: Winter Clothing

We get many questions about outdoor and winter clothing. This is natural, as many mentally picture Alaska as a winter wonderland, and teachers moving up are frequently from all parts of the United States. You will need something to first arrive in, and then choose winter clothing. It seems that consensus of educators already here is mostly to wait until you arrive to get the "real" winter clothing you will need.

Here information from BSSD that talks a little about clothing:
» BSSD's Moving Information – Recommends talking to your principal first.

As someone who bought a bunch of gear that I could not afford before I came up, and then saw that cold weather gear rot in storage for years, I'd agree. Alaska has several very distinct climate zones, and you will need local knowledge to buy appropriately.

I'd recommend the following Alaska Starter Kit for arrival, and get what else you need when you are here. No matter where you go, this will get you there and probably through the first two months of school easy:

  • Parka shell – Uninsulated, waterproof ($150 - $300)
  • Polarplus or wool sweater – Soft, polypro material ($35 - $150)
  • Lightweight glove liners – Polypro, or "Mechanix" gloves ($10 - $30)
  • Light polypro stocking cap or waterproof hat ($10 - $30)
Xtra Tuf Boots

Tip: It's wet most places in July & August. Cheap rain boots are easy to find in Anchorage. Many prefer Xtratuf Neoprene boots. Lightweight polypro underwear is another good thing to consider for the first couple of months.

In fact, I wear a similar setup most of the year up here in the Bering Strait region for day-to-day moving around the village, with the addition of Patagonia midweight polypro underwear in winter. I only wear the real winter gear, and pac boots from late November until about end of February or early March, or when travelling by small plane.

If you are doing outdoor activities during the main thrust of winter, such as snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing or snowshoing, all of these activities usually have fairly specialized clothing. Your fellow teachers will fill you in.

If you are determined to buy before you come up, here are several online companies that I see lots of boxes from at the post office...and that I've dealt with:

  • Cabela's Outfitters – Good selection, good shipping. Regular clothes, too.
  • REI – Another favorite up here. Lots of choices, good shipping. Store in Anchorage if you want to touch before you buy. Regular clothes, too.

Here are some personal recommendations of vendors I've used over the years for winter clothing:

Snow Mantra
  • Sierra Trading Post – Great prices, closeouts and bargains. Can't recommend these guys enough.
  • L.L.Bean – Good winter gear, but especially so on sale. I got a down parka here for under $100, and it kept me warm all winter. If you get their credit card, shipping is always free.
  • Campmor – Oodles of quality gear, good prices, ships US Mail(!) and has great phone support.
  • Weaver & Devore – Excellent "Canada Goose" connection for serious winter! Prices are in Canadian dollars. Cheaper than Anchorage when shipped by Canadian Postal Service. I bought the "Snow Mantra" from them, and put a thick wolf ruff on it, as is common here. I will never need another winter coat.

Alaska stores that ship outdoor gear to the Bush, and that I've used successfully many times:

  • Big Ray's – Fairbanks store with good gear, ships US Mail. Their lines included Alaska favorites like Carhardt insulated coveralls, bunny boots, and a "made for Alaska" value line for kids called "Activ 8".
  • 6th Avenue Outfitters – Anchorage outfitter with great gear. Got my Carhardt Extreme overalls embroidered for $10 extra. Ships US Mail. This store also carries the Alaska Activ 8 line my own kids grew up in.