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.
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.
Southeast Alaska is known for its Native carvings, especially of totems and masks. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what’s so impressive about this artwork, but when you look at a mask carved by Norman Jackson, you can just feel the emotions embedded in one of his wonderfully carved red or yellow cedar mask.
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.
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.
You’ll find the gamut of salmon products here – from alder-smoked fillets to canned pate. 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.
Pop into their store at 2400 Tongass Avenue (right across from Safeway) to see their wide selection of everything from reeds and drumsticks to amps and CDs. Even if you don’t need a guitar string or mouthpiece, stop by and chat with Roy and Tina, who for decades have nurtured, motivated and empowered the youth of Ketchikan to make music.
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 for prom!
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.