ECON 919

To get into the “Peninsula ~ Free ~ Buy ~ Sell ~ Trade” Facebook group, you’ve first got to go through Rookie. Rookie, who’s been going by that name both on and offline for years, is one of the group’s administrators and de-facto bouncers. 

“If you’re in Anchorage, sorry. If you’re in Utah, nope. Florida, I don’t think so," she said. "It’s carefully guarded so only people on the peninsula can be members.”

To date, a whopping 18,700 Kenai Peninsula residents are members. 

Courtesy of Nikki Corbett

In a purple qaspeq with blue trim and patterned patches, Nikki Corbett and her sewing machine greet her YouTube subscribers.

“Hi, it’s Nikki with Sew Yup’ik. And today I’m going to show you, I’m going to record a video in various parts. So this first part I’m going to show you how to add the trimming onto your traditional qaspeq.”

She instructs viewers in this video, almost 500 of them, how to make a qaspeq, a hooded garment with a large front pocket and hood typically worn by Yup’ik men and women. 

It’s been a tradition for the last 50 years that the owners of Kenai Fabric Center raise their kids in the store. Geneva Stasek bought the place in 1970 and her three daughters, Wendy McGahan, Gwen Woodard and Lynn Dykema, worked and sewed there until they ran it themselves. Their kids and grandkids were later folded into the business, spending time with aunts and cousins at the Willow Street storefront.

But that pattern will repeat no longer. The store will close its doors for good Oct. 31. While owners were close to selling  earlier this fall, it didn’t end up working out.

 There’s a real method to the way this store is arranged.

“As you go around the space, you’ll see all of these beautiful pieces of art that are really inspired by Alaska. I’m looking right now at some pieces of octopus and moose and polar bears and just all of these images that we love about Alaska,” said Ana Scollon, the store’s owner. “And then, as you move around the rest of the space, my hope is that as we think about all these wonderful things that we love about Alaska, we can also … basically change some of the things that we do to protect this space.”

This is The Goods, a Soldotna shop-to-be that sells zero-waste products and local art. It’s opening Oct. 17.

Jacob Caldwell’s family purchased Kenai Aviation from Bob and Jim Bielefeld two years ago. The Bielefelds’ operation flew workers from Kenai Municipal Airport to the oil fields, but their business waned when oil companies started making their own flights in house. When the Caldwells took over, they sought to make charter flight services and pilot training part of their operations. 

And that’s exactly what they did.