After nearly 20 years in business, the midtown Anchorage gift shop Flypaper! is closing its doors.
Owner Kim Barrett said she’s going to retire and live out her dream to sail around the world. Barrett said she chose to close her store now due to dwindling local support.
“I watched the foot traffic slowly drop off,” she said. “Whether those people are going to big box stores or online shopping or not shopping, I don’t know.”
Barrett said she always tried to make her shop special with unique, quirky merchandise.
“If I liked it, my customers were going to like it,” she said.
Now everything in the store is half off and even the furniture is for sale.
“Why should people walk into a bricks and mortar store? You can buy anything you want on the internet,” she said. “If they’re going to walk into a brick and mortar store it has to be fun. It has to be enjoyable.”
Stores in south Anchorage are teaming up to accomplish just that. Over the holidays, businesses in the complex off O’Malley Road — like ShuzyQ and 7E Studio — worked together to drive in customers.
“Every time someone bought $50 or more, we’d give them a 20 percent-off coupon to the next business,” 7E Studio owner Katie Sevigny said. “It would promote people looking local in our little area.”
Sevigny said her south Anchorage location is doing well, but sales at her gallery downtown were down 30 percent for the month of December. She said people might not realize the trickle-down effect when they choose the internet and free shipping over a hometown company.
“We need to talk about hunkering down and keeping the money local because the $10 you save every time you shop online, it’s effectively becoming jobs here,” Sevigny explained.
Store owners said it’s also about making connections with customers. Mountain View Sports owner John Staser said he’s able to match the prices of chain stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop, but many people don’t think about going to their neighborhood shop first.
Customer Bill Livingston was at the sports store on Tuesday afternoon, swapping fish tales with one of the salesmen. Livingston said it’s that personal relationship that brings him back.
“These guys are the local guys and they know the good things for the local fishing. They’ve got the hot tip,” Livingston laughed.
Back at Flypaper!, Barrett said she’s glad to hear about the businesses partnering to promote shopping small.
“If you can band together with a community group, do something like that and make it an event,” she said. “I think that’s a great idea.”
With items in the store priced at 50 percent off, Barrett expects all of her inventory will be gone by the second week of January.