Meet Tokite, Business Owner: Francine Lee

This is the first post of an ongoing series profiling people from Tok, Alaska. Gearing up for the summer so you know who everyone is in these parts!

Name: Francine Lee, Owner

Business: Tok General Store
Web Site:
Contact Info: po box 661   mp 1313.5 Ak Hwy  Tok, Ak.  99780

Phone: 907-883-8343,   fax 907-883-8344,   email

Q: What is your businesses?

A: Retail outlet majoring in Health foods and health and beauty items.  Some general merchandise such as camping gear, clothes, gifts and other items.  Also the AT&T dealer  for the area

Q: Why do you do what you do?

A: I primarily want to offer healthy food and beauty items to the community.

Q: Why do you do it in Tok?

I moved here 18 + years ago and much of our family lives here.

Q: What would you like folks passing through Tok this summer to know about your business?

A: If you are looking for  alternative health foods, Cell phone sales and service or gifts and supplies for your trip – come on in and see what is available.  You will be surprised at the choices available here.

Are you coming through Tok this year? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Buying Local – Supporting Tok Business

Image by dawnzy58 via Flickr

I’m a firm believer in buying local and giving my hard-earned money to hard-working businesses and service providers in my own community. The fact that this is one of my “life philosophies” seems to have been missed by a recent comment on this blog where I was chastised by one of those “brave” anonymous blog trolls who love to criticize others without offering any valuable insights or information.

Did you know we have our VERY OWN rv Repair business here in tok (several to be exact) and one i know of gives a LOCAL DISCOUNT. He can repair just about anything on an RV, including the water systems, which happens to be his specialty. (Black grey and potable). Shamefull, really, to take your business somewhere other than local when the economy could so clearly use the boost. Still promoting Tok? Doesn’t sound like it.

It all started when I mentioned we were bringing our RV and bikes to Fairbanks to be repaired. After asking around and looking around the community for an RV repair shop that was open this early in the season and that repaired RV flooring, we were directed to Fairbanks and other towns even further away.


Tok General Store

dscn0003Stopped into the Tok General Store for the first time – after picking up two days worth of mail from the Post Office. Note to self: Postman doesn’t bring the mail to your home anymore!

I love the Tok General Store! Francine, the proprietor, is a vegetarian (yes, in rural Alaska!) and has a thoughtfully selected array of veggie and healthy foods, condiments, and cooking products. I felt right at home seeing all the brand names I know and recognize. And her prices seemed incredibly reasonable, especially after seeing the heavily marked up prices on Costco-purchased goods at the grocery store.

Francine’s daughter is an artist. I’ll be sure to profile her on this blog soon. She makes lovely ceramics, and I was coveting one of her huge moose head paintings ($399). I’m determined to buy more art from Alaska artists and have a substantial collection in the next few years.

I’ll also see if Francine would like to be profiled. She was telling me about coming to Tok in ’91 as a nurse at the clinic and then one day having the idea of opening a general store. She says she had no business experience but told her husband about the idea and he ran with it. The next thing she knew, she had a store. She has seen her ups and downs – the more recent down was an attempt to add a deli to her shop – but she just keeps going at it.

Now all she needs is a little espresso drink stand and some free wifi, and I’ll be hanging out there every day!

First Day in Tok

It says 40 below

It says 40 below

Busy first day in Tok. Woke up to 40 degrees below. Moving van had a frozen engine so the movers were late getting to the house (ended up getting a heater and warming up the oil pan to get it started).

Fast Eddy's, Tok, Alaska

Fast Eddy's, Tok, Alaska

Went for breakfast at Fast Eddy’s but it was 11:30am and the kitchen had switched over to lunch. So had to get out of my “breakfast state of mind” and go for something else – salad bar. Then we headed to the grocery store – Three Bears Grocery – for eggs, milk, and such. All the cars and trucks were left running outside the store.

Three Bears, Tok, Alaska

Three Bears, Tok, Alaska

We recently met the manager of the Costco on Dimond in Anchorage who said that Three Bears, by far, is their very best customer. We recognized many of the items on the shelves but not the prices. This isn’t your urban Costco, baby. Welcome to rural Alaska! Then it was to the Post Office to confirm our PO Box, get some change of address postcards (yes, I procrastinated on that one), and purchase some postcard stamps. Felt like we met half the town at the post office but that is pretty typical in a small town – everyone sees everyone at the post office.

Post Office, Tok, Alaska

Post Office, Tok, Alaska

And everyone sees everyone driving around town when they do get out of their houses and drive around. In fact, my husband’s friend who has lived in Tok for several years saw our truck at the post office and stopped in to say hello. Next we headed to the AP&T (Alaska Power and Telephone) offices to pick up my wireless modem for my DSL connection. Finally, we headed back to the house and it was already starting to get darker, and it wasn’t even 3pm.