Alaska Success Stories Can Be Unique

4 Oct


How do we measure success? Alaska success stories can be a bit different from those in other places. Here are some examples for you to enjoy.

When my ex-husband, Les, and I started a gift shop in Kodiak, we found it a bit like starting a website. We built an addition to our house for our shop, and as we lived on the outskirts of downtown, we had to find a way to bring in traffic to our location.

It was toward the end of the turquoise craze. We’d gone to Arizona and found some wholesale jewelry sources. Now we had to sell our selections. People needed to know we carried turquoise.

One night we took a small tray containing 36 rings to a downtown bar. In three hours, we made $310.00 plus a wolverine hide. Life has its ups and downs. We were pleased with the day’s “take.”

That night in the bar started a tradition. When we ran low on cash, we’d take some jewelry and go to one of the local bars. This technique worked well, and I used it for all the years we lived in the area.

We loved trades, and when we couldn’t trade jewelry for money, we’d find other lucrative ways to enhance our earnings. Off and on, I’d trade 5-string banjo lessons for seafood.

One summer a friend took lessons every time he came home from a commercial fishing trip. He would bring me enough fresh fish to last for several days. We stocked the freezer for the winter from my “earnings.”

Then, another friend came by and wanted to pay cash for banjo lessons. I told him I’d only give lessons for fresh fish. A couple days later he came over after he got off work from a local cannery.

“How many banjo lessons can I get for this?” he asked, and flopped a frozen halibut weighing at least 100 pounds onto our picnic table.

I believe we got the better end of that deal, as I offered him two lessons. He took one of them and never came back for the second one. I guess he decided banjo wasn’t for him.

I must digress and tell you another story about this same man. He claimed I couldn’t beat him at cribbage, because he was undefeated. Of course, I wanted to find out if he spoke truth, so immediately challenged to a game.

About 3/4 of the way through the game, I had moved so far ahead that it appeared I would double skunk him (if you don’t know cribbage, that is a humiliating defeat.) Suddenly he looked at his wristwatch and said, “Oh, no, I have to leave right now. I’m late for a meeting.” So he left in the middle of the game, and I couldn’t claim I’d defeated him.

He would never play me another game.

We might not have had much money, but we were rich in the things that mattered — good friends, good times, and good experiences. We truly had a successful life.

When Les and I separated, I went to our Spruce Island land claim, and with the help of friends, built my house. It graced a lovely beach; my nearest neighbor (and the only one) was a quarter of a mile away. The village of Ouzinkie lay about a mile and a half in the other direction.

One year I went through three gasoline generators in a single year, and decided it must be time for a diesel generator. I could tell you the story of the process I went through just to get the genny to the house and installed, but will save that one for later.

However, I do have a story that demonstrates the power of persistence. It is a great example of reaching a goal by finding a unique solution to a problem that stands in the way of your success.

Once we got the genny installed under the house, I was told that I needed to get a large fuel tank for it. A friend in town would get the machine going for me, but I needed to go to Arc ‘n Spark in Kodiak, and ask Glen Dick to weld up an aluminum tank. I measured the available space under the house and went to town to get it built.

I took my plan for the tank to Glen. “What will it cost me to get this tank built?” I asked.

“We can build the tank for 300 to 400 dollars,” he answered. But when it was finished, the welder who did the job priced it out at over $600. After a harangue with Glen, we reached an agreement. I could have the tank for $500.

The problem was, I didn’t have $500. I said, “Look, Glen, I don’t have $500, so we need to do some creative financing. Can I set up a table of jewelry in front of your business for a couple of days to see if I can sell enough to pay at least part of the bill that way?”

“It’s okay with me, if you want to try,” said Glen. “I’m not sure if you’ll get much business, but give it a shot if you want to.”

So I came the next day and set up my display. In a couple of days I’d raised about $300. The welders seemed to like having the jewelry there. So did Glen’s customers. They’d come by and look, and then tease Glen about his new line of business.

Now I only needed a couple hundred more. I said to Glen, “Don’t you need a little stockpile of gifts for special occasions for your wife?”

“Maybe I do,” he said, and made a little list of the occasions when he’d need to give her gifts. We agreed that I would set up at noon the next day and he’d bring Beth in to see what she liked.

The next day Beth came in, and found several things she liked, but to Glen’s surprise, she gave me a check and bought them all and took them with her. When she left, Glen was left scratching his head and saying, “Gee, that didn’t work out quite the way I’d expected.” But I got my tank paid for in full.

Many times when I’ve reached a barricade to my success, I’ve thought of that particular story and resolved to find a solution to my current problem.

Often goal achievement on my Banjo Beach homestead had to do with hauling in supplies. Since I built my home on a small island, I had to figure out a way to get everything there. I could go by boat or by plane. Winters, I most often moved supplies from Kodiak to Spruce Island by float plane.

Over the years when I lived in my cabin, things changed, yet they stayed the same. Hauling supplies to Banjo Beach remained a labor-intensive process. Here is an anecdote from my journal that was written on Christmas Eve of 1999, 20 years after my move to the cabin:

I came home two days ago on Dean Andrew’s new Beaver. Being the winter solstice, we had the highest tide of the year. Dean tried landing at my beach, but because of the strong tidal surge, he feared dents in his new plane. So we taxied out and he said, “I’ll have to take you back to town and try to bring you home at the end of the day.”

I must have put just the right tone in my “Oh, I’m afraid I won’t make it home for Christmas” whine, because he said, “What about that beach next door? (Eskimo Cove.) Can I put you in there?”

“It’s on the right island,” I said. “Let’s go for it.”

He taxied into the Cove and got out to turn the plane around. “I don’t know,” he said. “There’s still a lot of surge here. Can you hold her tail up while I unload?”

“Let’s try it,” I said, and jumped out to help Dean,

Just then we heard a shout from the hillside. Caretaker Greg dropped the two boxes he had carried home from Ouzinkie and ran down the hill to help us. He held the tail of the Beaver off the rocks and logs while Dean and I relayed cargo as fast as we could.

I guess I neglected to mention that I had 550 pounds of boxed freight. I also had a metal cat carrier containing Maxine, my small Siamese cat with large opinions. She voiced those opinions about flying in general and this plane in particular for our entire flight.

Our freight and Her Highness had to be moved from the plane to shore, then across the beach — now nonexistent because of the high tide — across the flooded creek, and over the steepest hill on the trail to my house.

We got everything ashore and Dean took off. A shout again, this time from the other direction. My neighbor, Bob, appeared. Actually, he had incentive to meet me, as I had picked up some Christmas cheer supplies that he wanted from Kodiak. Bob ended up making three trips over the mountain with us, helping us haul cargo home.

Greggy brought over my toboggan for the heavier stuff. It took us almost three hours to get everything to my house. But, joy of joys, I made it home for Christmas! Now, there is a good example of successful goal achievement!

I do believe my 20 years of living on my homestead taught me many skills that are very helpful in my internet business. I am persistent; I do not give up easily. I am good at finding new, innovative ways to accomplish a task. I have an attitude that anything will work, if you just figure out how. The recipe for success includes many ingredients taken from real life.

My current recipe includes training and support from the company hosting my website, Wealthy Affiliate. To learn more about the company, click on the link below.

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32 Replies to “Alaska Success Stories Can Be Unique

  1. what an interesting time you had Fran and how wonderful to trade services for things you need
    we do that here in NZ and I love the way things tend to work out
    I would love to see where you live and will save my pennies so one day this will be a bucket list tick for me
    GO well on your journey

    • Well, save those pennies, girl! I am hoping you can come visit some day soon. Make a million bucks! I’ll tell you what — If I make a million before you, I will send you a ticket.

  2. Hello Fran,

    This is an interesting article. I loved reading it. I agree with you on being Persistent. If we want to succeed we should not give up. But that doesn’t mean we should follow the same unsuccessful method over and over again right? We have to come up with solutions, we have to think out side the box and we have to be practical. I think those are much needed qualifications to be successful in any field we chose to move forward.

    I am a new member to Wealthy Affiliate training program. I am still learning. But I hope both you and I can become successful or more successful than we are now in affiliate marketing after we gain more knowledge Fran. 🙂

    • Glad you found the article interesting…and you are absolutely right.  If one solution that you have tried is not working, then you definitely need to try something else.  It gives you a chance to practice originality.

      I, too, hope we both become successful.  We are all new at some time or other, and we learn by persistence.  Giving up is not an option.  I wish you good travels, and may the answers to your questions all come easily.

  3. Growth and diversification is what is needed to being in persistency in whatever one does. I really like this article and most especially, the fact that you tadeed services for what you need and that to me,is awesome and the operation of almost a cashless society. If we all can emulate that, we can truly live a meaningful life devoid of the greed for money. When things do not work out, we just need to pick another approach to doing things as that would give a new view to doing it and make things work out. This is great. Thank you

    • Yes, it is very nice when we can supply something other than cash to solve a problem, or if we can trade for what we need.  A cashless society is a great ideal, though probably not one we will ever see in our lifetimes.  On the other hand, any time we can trade service or something we have in abundance for something we need, that is a very good thing.

  4. Amazing!

    I love your website, your audacity, your strength, your endurance, goodness I can’t find enough adjectives to express what I feel.

    Yes, bring it on, into a perhaps not so much a physical role, but hey just as much daunting, in all sense of the word.

    But  thank you for an exceptional lesson in, yes I can, yes you can, achieve your dreams!

    Thank you,

    And you do know you live in paradise!


    • Michele, you are so kind!  Thanks for your comment.  And, yes, I do indeed know I live in paradise.  Sometimes the temperature in paradise is not to my liking, but I’ll put up with that just to be here.

      If what I am doing is helping you in some way, I’ve achieved one of my goals.  If you take away some words that you can use, that is wonderful. The things we do can benefit us in so many ways if we just pay attention to our world and find the ways that help the most.  

  5. Oh wow, this is very good. I like how you have shown here that when we can take things that we do not need and use them to get real stuff that is of importance to us, we become happy and we also make the other person happy. This goes a long way to support a world without cash and it, in the end, eradicates theft and other social vices. This is very nice to read. Thank you for sharing.

    • So glad you enjoyed it.  You realize, of course, that those of us who live here in the US have so much that we don’t even acknowledge or recognize. Trades are great, because they emphasize what is really important, I think.  If we can get what we want in an innovative way, more power to us.

      That holds true of our websites.  We need to find new and original ways to tackle our challenges and we will eventually find the road to success.  I hope your trail leads you there.

  6. I really loved to read your article today, you took me from the first word to the last!
    How incredible must be living there and how well you managed to find a way to trade what you do for things!
    Love how one day you traded two banjo lessons for that big fish!
    Thanks you for sharing a good read, and I’m sure I’ll be back to read more on your website and I’m sure I’ll learn some about how to do online business.

  7. Success has lot of strings tied to it and all we need to do is find one of it and work with it till we attain success. The idea of trying a new approach to things when the old one isn’t working should be a habit we need to instill in us in life. There is also the need to be consistent in what we do and also give our best and set our mind at what we do. With the right mindset towards anything, we are sure to get what we want. You are indeed someone to learn alot from, I wouldn’t mind if you school me, lol. Best regards Fran.

    • Good analogy — find that loose string that leads to success and unravel it so we can follow the trail…kind of like Hansel and Gretel and the trail of crumbs.  Consistency is good, too.  If we work at our project pf building online with consistency, it will help us a lot more than if we use the hit-and-miss method.  We need to keep at it, and make some progress, however little, every day.

      Another thing I’m finding with my association with Wealthy Affiliate is that I learn at least one new thing each day.  I now make it a practice to think about my day before sleep to figure out what new thing I’ve learned that day.  Try it…you will be amazed at what you have learned if you stop and think about it.

      Keep the faith — keep moving forward — don’t let anyone or anything tell you that what you are doing is impossible.  It is not.  Believe.  Best of luck to you.

  8. You sound like a renaissance woman. Amazing that you can accomplish so much in a very population limited area.

    Opening any business requires building prominence, how were you able to market yourself to such a small community. Those marketing skills are phenomenal for the worldwide stage of the web, where you have millions of potential buyers. 

    I can imagine it must be very peaceful living in a space so secluded yet having access to the beach on an ongoing daily basis. My hope is one day to be able to move to a quiet area. You have inspired me!

    • Well, maybe not a renaissance woman, but an Alaska bush woman.  A bush woman needs all those characteristics of persistence, making do, good attitude, finding original solutions, as they are skills that go with the lifestyle.  Then, finally getting on the internet and later joining Wealthy Affiliate seems to me to be the direction I was supposed to go.

      I like being able to show people that you can make something work no matter your circumstances, if you just have faith and are willing to do some hard work.  We can all succeed if we believe.  As the Quakers say, “Pray and move your feet.”  Good advice.

  9. This is really interesting, I must say you’ve been through the ups and the downs and what’s most appreciative of your story is the fact that you never let your time of despair and trouble swallow you, it’s very courageous and I like how you devise means of sourcing for money to solve your financial issues. This is one thing not common to most people, thinking and finding solutions. Also about Wealthy Affiliate, they offer the best training and they have a member friendly platform, I recommend it. Thanks for sharing your experience, I’ve enjoyed reading through it.

    • Thanks for your comment.  I do think the Alaskan challenge has helped me, now that I am a member of Wealthy Affiliate.  I think all of us on this platform need to know that it is okay to be innovative and original with our solutions.  Also, just because we reach a hurdle that seems unsurmountable, that is not the case.  It sometimes involves thinking outside the box — finding a new path that we have not tried before.  The solution is there.  At times we simply have to look for it.

  10. I love your website. The stories of how you started out in business are fun. I enjoyed the story of your house being on the small island and having your supplies hauled in to you also. In the face of all the diversity, you kept on believing in yourself and going forward. You were persistent and determined. It is the same things needed to learn affiliate marketing. I do think that we are lead places for a reason and I believe you were led to WA because of your determined spirit and your drive not to fail. What a great success story in the making. I enjoyed this reading and look forward to hearing more about your success.


  11. I have to say, I love your back story! It actually kept me interested the whole time I was reading it. That does not happen very often, and I was curious on what was going to happen next. It’s awesome to see that Wealthy Affiliate is helping you out as well!  It’s always good to have that support. 

    • Thanks, Jessie.  That’s so good to hear, that  you actually read the whole thing.  That’s what we aim for when writing posts, and I wish I could hit that mark all the time.  Telling stories is a great way to capture the attention of your readers.  I intend to use that technique whenever I can figure out how to fit it in.  Try it, you’ll like it.

  12. Hi! Thank you for sharing your story. I found it very interesting. Yes, there is similitude between how you attracted people to your shop and the way we have to attract people to our websites. I like the overall message, never giving up. There is always a creative way to overcome a present adverse difficulty! Thanks!

    • Yes, you are right.  We must refuse to give up.  We must search until we find a way to overcome our difficulties.  Believe me, I do lots of searching, but do find solutions, eventually.

      Keep looking for those creative methods in your own life.

  13. This was a very interesting story. I especially liked the part about the Cribbage game. I know how humiliating it is to get double skunked. I’ve played Cribbage nearly every week for three years and have only gotten that privilege once (and it really put a dent in my overall score). You should try playing my grandpa sometime–he’s been playing Cribbage nearly his whole life!

    • I’d love to play cribbage with your grandpa — I imagine we would have a fine old time.  My mother taught me to play when I was 11 years old, and I am now 81.  Seventy years of playing has given me lots of practice.  And, yes, I have double skunked a few people and have had a few 29 hands as well.

      I met a man in Ninilchik, Alaska, who was an excellent cribbage player.  He said when he was 16, he entered a tournament where the first prize was a new car.  On his winning game, he actually got a 29 hand!  He said he won the car, no problem, but had to have someone drive it home for him, as he still didn’t have a driver’s license.  Pretty cool.

      Keep up the cribbage — it’s a great game.

  14. Alaska brings so many good memories to me. Yes, I can relate to what you were describing concerning attracting customers to your shop. I know the area.

    I also had a similar experience to yours concerning setting up a table of jewelry in front of a friends business. I remember the jokes. LOL. The point is that you always found a way! That’s so important! 

    • Whatever works, that’s my motto.  If it takes selling jewelry to raise the money you need, go for it. 

      Always finding a way is a mindset that is needed when building an online business.  Don’t let the challenges stop you.  Find a way around them.  That is something that life here in Alaska has taught me.

  15. Wow, this is really beautiful, all the experiences that you have shared here. I am always happy whenever i learn new stuff or when a person shares a post about a great experience. I like how you could trade stuff for stuff without needing money for what you want. My grandma used to tell me that in the past, that was how trades were made. Maybe someday, we too can go back to that, what do you think?

    • I’d love to go back to a trading society.  It’s a fun way to do things.  I use that avenue whenever I can.  Perhaps, someday money will be unknown.  Then we’ll have to operate websites that trade things.

      I’m glad you liked my post…I have been fortunate to have many great adventures here in Alaska.  I feel fortunate to be here.

  16. I agree with you when you talk about being persistent. So many people tend to give up when faced with a problem in life, some even give up on dreams that could have helped them become someone really big in life. From your story, i have learned quite alot from it. The fact that you didn’t just stay on a particular trade and trying new things, the fact that you don’t give up and that worked for you. I’m a young girl in my twenties and I look forward to achieving great success as well.

    • You are so lucky to be in your 20s.  I am 81 and glad to be here, and going strong.  You can do so much with your life. It’s great that you realize at your age that if you start now, your goals are ‘way more reachable.  

      Yes, try new things.  Look for new solutions.  Along the way, find mentors and learn as much as you can from them.  Don’t be afraid to be innovative and original.  Learn your strengths and then follow and develop them.

      Starting at your age with an affiliate marketing website gives you an opportunity to build something that will be with you all your life.  Even if it becomes just one stream of income for you, creating multiple streams of income is very important.  If you can figure out ways to do so, do it.  Meanwhile, build your website into something sustainable and of value to you for the rest of your life.

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