Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Downtown shops cut hours, cite sales


Some downtown businesses are trimming hours, citing slow sales.

Local boutique owner Kristine Harder said she isn’t surprised by a state demographics report showing a drop in population in the past year. Harder spent last fall trying to find an affordable lease space in Skagway due to sluggish sales in Haines.

In the past, Harder kept the store open full time and hired employees to cover for her while she traveled and attended trade shows. “This year I decided it wasn’t a prudent business decision, and reduced my hours substantially in January,” she said.

More people doesn’t always mean better business, though, Harder said.

“Haines is an extremely challenging business environment, and every person counts. But the town needs to make a conscious decision whether they care about having shops open on Main Street, or if they’d rather shop in Juneau or online, and have more boarded up buildings,” she said.

The Babbling Book also recently cut its hours, closing altogether on Tuesdays. Owner Tom Heywood said he couldn’t pinpoint exactly why sales are down so much, but could only say things seem “really, really slow.”

Tuesdays have seen the slowest sales, he said.

Howsers Supermarket has cut back its Monday through Saturday hours by an hour. It now opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 7:30 p.m.

Howsers owner Mike Ward says he’s also turning off the lights in his sporting goods store until customers stop by.

“We’re taking measures to cut back on expenses and try to still keep the doors open,” he said.

Sales at his businesses have been flat for years, but now appear to be dipping, Ward said. “It’s definitely been a slower winter. I’m concerned about the whole community.”

Ward said his Fort Seward-based businesses usually see an uptick in March from heli-skiers coming to town. “We’re hoping for that again this year, but it’s looking a little bleak.”