Local support helps 2 Mat-Su businesses expand
Two small businesses in the Mat-Su are expanding their operations to include stores in both Wasilla and Palmer.
At the Whimsy store in downtown Palmer, shoppers will find a little bit of everything.
“I had a customer ask me in one word how would you describe your store. The first word that came to my mind was smorgasbord,” laughed Kelly McKay-Dolfi.
She took over the store a few years ago. Since then, Whimsy has added more space after the salon next door moved out and her merchandise moved over.
“We’re at 1,950 square feet,” McKay-Dolfi said. “And we’ve outgrown it.”
That’s one of the reasons she opened a new store called Northern Lilly at the Creekside Plaza in Wasilla over the summer. Northern Lilly is also McKay-Dolfi’s trademark to grow her business even more.
“Because we wanted to start branding some of our everyday products. I didn’t necessarily want to go into compete with the Alaskan artists. We’re looking at outerwear, accessories, jewelry,” McKay-Dolfi said.
When the Garden Gate store down the street from Whimsy became available, McKay-Dolfi took the opportunity to bring Northern Lilly to Palmer.
It will be a Christmas store at first, then transition into more of a boutique.
“There’s been a tremendous growth in shopping local every single year. Which is really kind of cool. And that’s where people are going,” McKay-Dolfi said.
A block down, another small business is finding success.
There’s a handful of Alaska Chicks apparel at Peak Boutique in downtown Palmer. Now the clothing company has a bigger and better selection at its new location in the Clock Tower building in Wasilla.
“We’re able to expand in our home décor and our furniture as well so we have a lot of those options here,” said Alaska Chicks manager Hannah Shields.
It’s the first time they’ve had a stand-alone storefront. The larger space means there’s room for more than just sweatshirts.
“We have a lot of hand-done signs that are locally made. Those have been super popular,” Shields said.
Customer Victoria Marsh said she wasn’t surprised to hear about Alaska Chicks and Northern Lilly growing their presence.
“It’s just another testament to the fact that they have good business model, good customer service, good product and that they obviously know what they’re doing,” Marsh said. “It’s not something you necessarily think about when you think of the Valley. You’re not thinking these little businesses are going to thrive in a place like this but they do.”
Northern Lilly’s Palmer location is expected to be open in November. McKay-Dolfi said she plans to donate a portion of proceeds every Thursday to The YAK youth center in Palmer.
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