Tari & Gary Egan: Alaska should welcome visitors

January 1, 1970

Tari and Gary Egan operate a popular gift shop in Skagway.

Names: Tari & Gary Egan.

Title: Owners, North to Alaska.

Briefly describe business: North to Alaska is an Alaska souvenir gift shop in Skagway.

When did you first become involved in the visitor industry? We've been running the shop since 1993.

How did you get your start with the cruise industry? Our first business was in Sitka, called the Alaska Basket Company. We sold it before starting North to Alaska.

What's the best part of your job? We really enjoy the autonomy of it and appreciate being self-employed. We enjoy our small staff and our son is able to work in the shop. Watching him interact with the customers is great. Tari really enjoys the creative aspect of the business.

What's your favorite cruise passenger story? We went on a cruise in 1997 from San Francisco to Acapulco and were on the outside balcony watching some dancing that was taking place below. There was one woman in particular who was cutting loose and was having an amazing time and we were able to photograph her. Two to three years later the woman ended up in our store in Skagway and we were able to chat with her and talk about what a small world it really is.

What should Alaska do to better support/protect the visitor/cruise industry? We need to better educate people throughout the state who aren't involved in the tourism industry so they will realize the trickle-down effect and what an important role the industry plays in Alaska. We need to embrace and welcome the visitors while maintaining a healthy respect of the pristine environment we live in.