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  • Melinda Murphy

Man sails 14 hours to get groceries for neighbors

Courtesy Fox News Now that's a good neighbor.

One Alaska man has become a local legend amid the coronavirus pandemic, sailing his boat on 7-hour trips to the nearest Costco for grocery trips once a week.

The city of Gustavus is home to about 450 people, and their supply chain was allegedly disrupted in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, when the enclave’s only dock closed for a four-month repair, The Hustle reports. According to the outlet, air taxis are the next best option for residents to have goods delivered, at the steep charge of $0.50 per pound, per delivery – creating quite the pickle for people to keep food stocked up during quarantine.

Undeterred, resident Toshua Parker reportedly began making weekly voyages onto his 96-foot barge across the Icy Strait to Costco’s Juneau location to pick up affordable groceries for his fellow Gustavians.

Parker runs the town’s Ice Strait Wholesale shop, affectionately nicknamed “Toshco” and known as “a mini hybrid of Costco and Home Depot,” The Hustle reports.

Though Parker had already been importing goods into Gustavus before the pandemic hit, his role as the local grocer is now more important than ever. Costco, however, remains famously firm with its store policies prohibiting panic-buying, even though Parker is effectively shopping for hundreds of people.

“We’ll place a $20,000 order, but they’ll still only give us one pack of paper towels,” he said. “I understand why they’d do that, but we’re not a single person panic buying; we’re trying to feed a whole community.”

Ice Strait Wholesale has stayed open during the pandemic, as employees take resident’s orders by phone for Parker’s 7-hour treks to Costco each week.

The shopping hauls are eagerly anticipated, Parker said, likening one of his recent returns to the excitement of a holiday.

“It’s like Christmas when the load gets here. Everyone is waiting for it,” Parker said. “Word gets out, and they all seem to know when it’s coming."

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