With another chapter in the ebb and flow of business in Alaska coming to Fairbanks, I can’t help but note that the individuals in this state seem to follow this same trend; many are transient, but all must be resilient in order to stay.
Sears just announced what we all knew would happen sooner or later (how can a large chain continue to bleed red with only three to five cars in the enormous parking lot at a time?)–it is closing, Tuesday, days after the announcement, I was astounded to see the parking lot once again full of cars. Amazing what those “70% off, going out of business” placards will do in a community this size.
Conversely, Costco will open its doors tomorrow morning bright and early, after the long hiatus due to the abrupt departure of Sam’s Club. It is difficult for those in the lower ’48 to understand the anticipation with which the population of Fairbanks (and I dare say, most of the bush community in northern Alaska) regards this event. I am not sure that I want to endure the “black Friday on Tuesday” mobs that will visit this new store for the first time.
Alaskans must be both transient and resilient. A great portion of the individuals who make up Fairbanks are brought here through the military–serving at Fort Wainwright or Eielson Air Force Base. Others come to study or teach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Seasonal employees come to work, whether it be in construction or tourism. When someone says they are leaving the State, we often quip that “they’ll be back– just wait until they experience real traffic jams.’
Resiliency comes as each season brings its challenges; the winter, drives us to find ways to “keep the lights on”–so to speak. Literally this could translate into making sure the pipes don’t freeze and the heat stays on. Oh, and don’t forget to plug in the car–(for those of you who don’t know, the oil pan must be heated so the car will start). With the spring, there can be flooding to cope with. As summer comes the long days generate extra hours so people push themselves beyond normal limits in order to maximize the warmth and daylight, the fishing, hunting, and harvesting.
Resiliency does not only pertain to seasons, but business as well. Alongside the great opportunity to succeed in a new venture here in the “frozen North” is also the flip side of potential for failure. A “can’-do” spirit goes a very long way in this community as well as the state in general. Many come to find a second chance at life, love, fortune, and adventure. Fortunately, many succeed.