Galligaskins to convert to mail-order-only business

Business's two storefront locations to close on Jan. 31

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2007

Many people in Juneau are used to ordering goods from Outside by mail, but Galligaskins is banking on another trend - Outsiders ordering in.

The locally owned tourism shop, which has two locations on Franklin Street, is shutting its storefront operations to concentrate on its catalogue business.

"Now the catalogue has its own personality, and it has become more than just what the storefronts were," said Gaile Swope, who co-owns the business with her husband, Rod, Juneau's city manager. The stores' last open day will be Jan. 31.

Swope declined to say who would be taking over the shops, indicating only that they would be leased to two Alaska companies.

"I think everyone will be happy because it will be really similar to what we have there now," she said.

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The shops' name means loose baggy knickers, in homage to Galligaskins' early days as a children's boutique. The business celebrates its 21st anniversary this May, Swope said.

"Probably the last five years we really have thought about giving up the retail end of it," said Swope, who's aware that rumors have been circulating about the reasons for the sale.

"At this time, I'll probably just enjoy not having so much on my plate," she said.

The catalogue business started 11 years ago and now has roughly 500,000 subscribers, she said.

"It was slow-growing and we definitely had our difficult times during the 9-11 time."

At first, the storefronts were vital because tourists became familiar with Galligaskins and what it sold. Now, after launching a national advertising campaign, the storefronts are not as necessary.

Trimming down, however, has also meant cutting employees. During the summertime, Galligaskins employed 50 people, and roughly 12 during winter, she said.

Only a few are staying on to help with the catalogue venture.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.



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