For decades, Ketchikan residents shopped downtown in the city’s historic shopping district. Whether is was goldfish or a hard hat, you’d find it down at the Bon Marche, Tongass Trading, or another locally owned business.
In post-cruise ship times, though, the cost of rental space in downtown has tripled or quadrupled. Many businesses moved, and now much of the day-to-day local shopping is done several miles to the west.
Downtown shops today cater mainly to tourists, with dozens of jewelry stores adorning the frontage area in summer. These are typically only open in summer, and you can find many of the same shops at ports of call in the Caribbean or Mexico.
Venture just a couple of blocks further into Ketchikan to wander through an eclectic mix of independently-owned stores: local craftsmen and artists, candy stores, gift stores and galleries.
Start off on Mission Street and browse through many of these in a few hours. Be sure to include Creek St. in your shopping expedition too, where you can enjoy retail offerings in an environment that hasn’t changed much from the times when the pilings were first erected here over Ketchikan Creek in the late 1800s.
Some of our recommendations include:
Ketchikan Arts & Humanities Council (KAAHC) is the powerhouse of Ketchikan’s arts community; if there’s an arts event in Ketchikan, this organization is on it! Located at the Main Street Gallery, KAAHC produces dozens of art events annually, such as summer’s Blueberry Arts Festival and February’s famous Wearable Arts Show.
Far from your average corporate bookstore, Parnassus Books feels homey, personal, and full of local spirit. The shelves house a wide variety of reading materials for the hungry book lover: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, IndieBound bestsellers, cookbooks, Pacific Northwest and Alaskan Native arts and culture, local history and ecology, and more.
You can find gorgeous but functional hand-carved wooden bowls, glass sculptures of fish, copper etchings, antler and soapstone carvings and pottery. Prints, photographs, and original paintings adorn the walls, representing both well-known (Birdsall, Munoz) and lesser-known artists.
Tongass Trading Company has been a fixture on dockside Ketchikan for more than a century, and is worth a visit anytime you are in Alaska. As the oldest continually operating business in the state – since 1898 – Tongass Trading Company is a living symbol of Ketchikan history. Throughout the years, it has outfitted miners, loggers, fishermen, tourists, those who work in the tourism industry – and even locals needing a tux rental or evening gown ...more
You’ll find the gamut of salmon products here – from alder-smoked fillets to canned pâté. How about a little smoked sockeye salmon belly with honey? Peppered smoked salmon jerky? The staff here will explain the differences in products and give you samples so you can see what you prefer.
Beware: if you came just “to look,” you’re kidding yourself. You can carve a block of chocolate out of the air in this aromatically-rich Parisian-style store. Mountains of fresh chocolate surround you – and at the end of the aisle is a young lady who is happy to trade you chocolate for money.
This quaint jewelry and gift shop on historic Stedman Street showcases a lively mix of jewelry, clothing, art, and housewares. Current proprietor Ashley Burns fills the shop with an eclectic mix of items she loves – from children’s clothes, toys and books to ladies’ vintage aprons and trendy dresses. Jewelry has to be the highlight, though, with pieces from up and coming woman artists.