December 30, 2021
To begin, we hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season with you and yours.
We began the year not sure what a post-covid year would look like in Seward, Alaska. There were so many different strategies being implemented around the US and world. It was hard to decipher what the most responsible way to navigate it all as responsible community members and a small buisness. To our surprise, however, the momentum of 2020 continued from the 1st days of 2022 and we were able to continue serving our community and visitors safely, responsibly and without disruption.
On the flip side, staffing was extremely challenging all year long for us. Having wound up with only half of the team we normally have for the summer, we were forced to close 2 days a week and open 3 hours less a day. But because of the mix of Team have and their perseverance, we still had a record season.
Familial surgeries at the beginning and end of year created additional challenges for us. Linda wound up having to shoulder most of the day-to-day duties during the height of the season. Luckily, there were lots of silver linings in all of this though; one being that we were able to stay on top of ordering and avoid a lot of the logistical challenges that so many experienced.
This year, it was especially exciting to watch one of our local staff members, Marisa Phasomsap, blossom into one of our top 10 selling artists. It's incredible to think just a year ago she started out selling hand-painted rocks in our shop. We are so proud of her. And she continues to stock our shelves with her work even now after after leaving for college in the Lower 48.
Great job, Marisa! We celebrate you and all that lays ahead for you.
Expanded Offerings & Top Hits
We were also fortunate to be able to continue to expand our reach across Alaska as a result of our expanded selections this year. Guests literally came from all over Southcentral Alaska to shop with us throughout the year. Some of the biggest hits were the addition of Salomon Shoes, Cotopaxi and Kavu clothing. We were also able to expand our selections of Salmon Sisters, Kuhl and Patagonia mercahndise with success. It tickled us to no end that Alaskiwear hats became our biggest hat line, hands-down this year.
Meg Smith and Annie Brace continued to lead the way in the Gallery, along with His Design metal wall art and Todd Salat’s Aurora Hunter photo prints. We started carrying Ivory Jacks jewelry and knives from Juneau, with their single and double Damascus axes becoming the biggest conversation pieces. We added coffee this year and enjoyed all the smells of Uncle Leroys out of Anchorage and Harborside Coffee out of Kodiak all year long..Ruffwear continued to be one of our anchor lines, so it was not surprising that adding dog treats Alaskins from Soldotna and Drool Central from Anchorage were such hits.
It’s really satisfying curating such an assortment. We are blessed to be able to work with all of these people, building relationships with each artist, artisan and vendor along the way.
We were especially lucky to grow our Team this year with a few even working remotely with us.
To say the least, 2022 is really looking good with this Team. We look forward to continuing to build it throughout the year. (We are still looking for a Warehouse manager and Retail clerks for the summer season. Send anyone interested to our Coolworks job posts: here!)
Giving back is a huge priority for us. Seward has a wide range of incredible organizations, nonprofits and businesses who put their hearts and souls back into this beautiful town, and in 2021 we strived to do our part as well.
We had the privilege of working with a range of organizations, including:
We have the groundwork laid to begin working with even more organizations in 2022 and will be unveiling a new 'Round-up" program in the Spring! It really does take all of us working together to address the serious challenges faced those living in our communities.
After a slew of cancellations in 2020, Seward was able to bring back the First Friday Art Walk Summer Series in 2021. It was so wonderful to participate in First Friday events throughout the summer, with both dear old friends and new artists alike.
One of the most unique First Fridays happened in July when we had Annie Brace (Corso Graphics) and all 3 of her kids participate together on that cold windy day. It was a mini art festival right under our awning! (You can read more about Annie, Eliza & Cooper in their Heart of Art entry: here!)
Only the 2 deliveries by Meg Smith (Meg Smith Design) made via her own bush plane could have topped the Brace Family Art-A-Palooza. Meg never ceases to amaze us with her jetsetting bada**ery in both her personal and professional endeavors, though. (In fact, you can learn more about her history with Art, Design & Airplanes in our Heart of Art blog entry: here!)
We must confess, though, that our top highlight of 2021 was when we streamed the Olympic heats of our local swimmer Lydia Jacoby live for you in the wee hours of the morning this summer. Our whole community came out and screamed oursleves hoarse crying together, hugging everyone around us as she went on to win both gold and silver medals in the Tokyo Olympics! Welcome to Seward Alaska - where we have more Olympic Medals than stoplights.
In 2022, we will be growing soon and can't wait to share all the news once we finalize everything and have signed on the dotted line. We are over the moon and deep into plans, designs and new collaborations to make it all happen.
In 2021, we were so proud to make our first foray into sponsoring local events, by being one of the co-sponsors of the 2021 New Years Eve fireworks last year. We decided to make it a tradition going forward and are also co-sponosring the Firewroks again this year. We will be streaming the fireworks live on our Facebook Page 12/31 at Midnight if you want to see!
We will also be ringing in the New Year by jumping in the frigid waters of Seward’s Boat Harbor for the Alaska Polar Bear Plunge, benefiting the American Cancer Society on January 15th. We are jumping in honour of a local dear to our hearts who is fighting cancer and also to raise awareness and funds for cancer survivors. Please keep your eye out for upcoming emails/posts on social media about how you can donate to support the cause!
As we wrap things up, it is not an exaggeration to say that none of this would be possible without you. Your patronage, support and participation make all this possible. You are our inspiration and the force that drives our FTT family. We would be less without each of you and all that you share with us. You make us better. We are forever grateful to each of you.
We always say that our store reflects all of you and 2022 will be no exception. Fun things are coming. Stay tuned… And keep on sharing!
We are better together. Always.
Thank you for being you and taking the time to share your lives with us.
All the best in 2022 for you and yours,
The FTT Family
Linda, Cliff, Deb, Mary, Cassie, Travis, Carol, Morgan, Smokey
Woof! Smokey Here!
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all the belly rubs, ‘good boy’s, and daily treats this year.
And while many-a-canine will joke and say, “Life is Ruff”, and even though I strongly believe that the shop iRoomba is secretly run by an evil feline, it’s been wonderful to share this year with you all. If you stop in, know that my resolution for 2022 is to go through 32 moosey chews - so if you want to give a dog a bone… (*wink*)
Hope your next seven (dog) years bring you lots of belly rubs, and warm couches to stretch out on. Woof!
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