I have lived in the beautiful state of Alaska for over 25 years now, and from what I remember from history, Alaska was granted statehood on January 3, 1959. When I first moved to the valley I live in, there were no WalMarts, Sears, Targets, or other such nationwide chains of merchants.
The people of Alaska were a hardy, and mostly self-reliant breed, and most lived a very different lifestyle than what was considered to be normal in the lower 48 states. The railroad and shipping industries have played a vital part in the transporting of goods to and from Alaska, and even with the Alaska Highway being opened to the public in 1948, continue to play a major role in the transportation industry.
Transportation costs to and from Alaska remain high, whether by land, sea or air, which has always resulted in the costs of goods being higher than elsewhere in the United States. And this is at least somewhat understandable, if not likeable.
What I want to RANT about is the fact that even while we may be willing (or forced) to pay higher costs for shipping to Alaska, there are still many places that REFUSE TO SHIP TO ALASKA!
In the lower 48 (or contiguous) states, people can order anything they want. Places like Amazon, E-bay, WalMart, Sears, etc. will deliver items right to a person’s door or mailbox.
I felt like Alaska was finally being accepted into the “modern era” when we had our first WalMart built in our valley, followed shortly after by Sears. Then I discovered ordering online…YAY! But we cannot order from WalMart or Sears, or any other major chain for that matter. It doesn’t make sense to me, to be told, “We cannot ship this item to Alaska due to the cost”, when the companies are already shipping to their own stores, WHICH ARE LOCATED HERE IN ALASKA!
I thought I found a happy solution with Amazon and E-bay, even if it meant paying a higher shipping fee than anywhere else in the United States. A few years ago, I even joined “Amazon Prime” (for a fee of course), and was promised “free shipping on ANY qualifying item”.
In the few years since joining Prime, I’ve ordered several items, including a microwave-convection oven. Some items have been sent to my post office box, while some have been delivered right to my doorstep.
Yet in this past week, I tried to order a simple, small shop vacuum. There were several models available on Amazon, including 5 that were “qualified for Prime shipping”. When I placed the order, I received the message, “we’re sorry, we cannot ship to your location”. I tried every one of the models on Amazon, whether it was sold directly by Amazon, or a 3rd party, and received the same message from every single one of them!
I could order all the spare parts, hoses, bags, and filters I wanted. But I could not buy the shop vac itself! I finally gave up, discouraged. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with weight issues, because the microwave I ordered certainly weighed more. And I’ve known people that have received goods weighing over 500 lbs. So I don’t know why I couldn’t buy my shop vac, it is a mystery.
Today, I received a coupon for 15% off the price of a throw rug type item. We’re talking a rug measuring 35” x 26” and weighing less than 10 lbs. I decided to buy it, but as I was placing the order, I put in the zip code, and I got the same message, “We’re sorry. We don’t ship to that area”. I looked on the pull down menu where the states are listed, and Alaska wasn’t even on the list. Yet the company proudly displayed “Made in America” on their website.
Yes, it costs more to ship to Alaska. But the consumer (the one buying the item) is the one paying for it. So if we are willing to pay the higher shipping fees, why are we being discriminated against in buying the items we want to buy?
Sometimes, I just don’t feel like we Alaskans are included as a part of the United States. There are still some folks out there that seem to think we are in a different country.
Once when I was on a trip to the South, a man asked me, “What kind of money do you folks in Alaska use”? I just couldn’t help myself! I replied, “We don’t use money. We just dig up gold nuggets out of our back yards”.