North Susitna, Alaska
Hello Friends and thank you for visiting.
I was born in a very small town in Southern Oregon. My family moved to Portland when I was 7 years old, after my father had graduated from law school. Portland is a very beautiful city. Oregon will always be my "hometown."
My Mother had worked for Payless Drugstore from the time I was about 4 years old until I graduated from high school. All of the employees were very specifically trained in the art of soft sales. I remember walking home from work with her at a very young age and having quite serious, long talks about the Soft Sales Approach. She explained to me how important and more rewarding it was to pay attention to the needs of your customers. She said that Payless was special because they did not want customers to ever feel pressured. She taught me how it was always best to do what is truly right for people and to never push them into something they don't need or want. She said that by being caring we can create long term relationships with clients and become a trusted part of their lives. That would grow a business with natural referrals instead of costly advertising. It was also, doing the right thing. The Payless team welcomed me. I remember very clearly how well they all worked together and how much I learned from them.
My Mother was very determined that my sister and I grew up as caring people who had very special work ethics. I remember being quite young and noticing when we were in a hard sales environment. I was just stunned at how some sales people acted. These early influences were very significant in making me the woman I am today.
By the time I graduated from high school my Mom had been the bookkeeper for Payless for many years. She understood the way retail worked and decided that we, as a family, should go into business for ourselves. She wanted us to learn first hand how to run a business with the highest ethics. Under her guidance we learned the rewards that come with time, patience, hard work, honesty, and genuine concern for others.
Right after I graduated she sent me scouting for a business to buy. We were always rescuing animals and had quite a menagerie. I grew up with several birds and had a very natural knack with them. I could tame the wildest of birds and was a natural at pet care in general. We picked the second pet shop I worked at. The owner was a kindred soul to my Mother. Mom bought Pet World and we ran it as a family. I worked very close with my Mother and Sister and our handful of incredible employees.
At about the age of 24 I opened a second store. It was a wonderful experience. Ever since then I have been either in some form of small business of my own, or working for another small business. I did try some big department stores and other types of employment, but honestly I just could not adapt to the hard sales approach. I was set in my ways. I will always be thankful to my Mom, family and other mentors for instilling such important values in me. It is unfortunate nowadays that even the mention of soft sales at an interview will almost always result in not even a callback. We are in a different world now. That is what happens...times change.
It was about 1996 when we were ready for a change. My Mother moved closer to our original home town to be near family. She purchased a tavern and transformed it into a family friendly atmosphere with great food and good hometown entertainment. She had some clean up to do as it was a bit of a rough place when she bought it. She was a complete success. It took a little while, but she did it. She is still the owner of the Rose Garden Inn, located in Drain, Oregon.
I had always had an interest in Alaska. For some reason it just called to me. In 2002 I finally made it here. I started in Tok, way up North. Then Big Lake, Anchorage, and Wasilla. Finally in the Spring of 2017 I wandered into the little village of Talkeetna.
My journey to Talkeetna included several business ventures. I have owned an auto repair shop, a taxi, a check cashing business, and even tried my hand at real estate. I cherish all of these wonderful experiences and the amazing people I have met along the way. Real estate definitely was not my thing. Talk about hard sales and working with an absolutely unbelievable set of complications! Oh My! Even though I did not like it I was very influenced by what I learned. It was here that my minimalist lifestyle took hold permanently. I was absolutely shocked to learn how expensive it is to actually buy a finished home. I was always so busy with my work that I was very seldom at home. I managed to get almost everything I needed at wholesale most of my life. The mark up, expense to maintain, and risks of home ownership just never sat with me. It was back when I opened my pet shop when I first lived in a van. I was working through the clock. I had all of the facilities I needed at the shop...laundry...showers...etc. The idea of spending $1000 a month on somewhere I literally did not sleep...was not for me. I had a close girlfriend and found the occasional day off parking next to her garden. Visiting was a breeze when I brought my own bedroom.
Vans became a part of Alaskan Life right away. The long journey from Tok to Fairbanks for parts and supplies was so much better in a van. My ex and I were working so hard. Taking turns driving and sleeping was critical. We could pull over and be comfortable if we were both exhausted. Our goods were protected from the elements. I became a die hard van fan. Other vehicles have their roles...but first and foremost for me was the trusted early model Chevy Van.
After the real estate experience and my divorce... I just did not know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. After some Gypsy time I landed a dream job at the Anchorage YMCA. It was so wonderful. I got to spend all day helping others and finally pay attention to my own physical well being. Unfortunately it was located in Anchorage. Anchorage is an important part of Alaska, but it was just too busy. And oh my goodness! WAY too expensive. I found my self a van and was fleeing back into the Mat Su Valley. I was determined to take my time and find a place where I could be happy, be myself, and live the way I wanted to live. I wanted my own business and to buy land. We Alaskan's are much more inclined to build in stages and out of pocket. It is a freedom of choice we love. When I arrived in Talkeetna I had a stockpile of simple beaded jewelry, some face painting supplies, and my little dog. We lived in the van and sold my goods from May until October in 2017. In October I found a tiny, dry cabin. It was 10 by 12 feet...I think. In April cabin fever was in full swing. As soon as it was warm enough we were back in the van, where we are still very comfy if need be.
It did finally happen however. I purchased a small parcel of land and reclaimed the old bus Grant and I bought in Canada on our way up North. I finally got tired of looking for winter lodgings and wondering who I would be living with or near.