Small businesses create niche for themselves in Anchor Point community

Winter might be a slow time for business in some places, but in Anchor Point, business owners are putting the slow-down to their advantage.
Some are developing new approaches to boost business at long-time establishments. Others have identified a market not met and are hoping to meet the need. At least one is taking advantage of space available at Homer’s neighbor to the north. Another has found the timing — and location — right for launching a new career.

Anchor River Inn
Owners: Jesse and Jennifer Clutts
Current hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Sunday
Location: Corner of Sterling Highway and Old Sterling Highway

Dating back to the late 1950s when Joe and Elisabeth Aprill opened up a cafe in a small cabin, the Anchor River Inn has been an Anchor Point landmark.
Now owned by the Clutts family, the business has grown to a dining area, bar, liquor store, grocery store and fitness center.
A recent remodel has moved the inn’s office to what was once the entrance to the dining room, transformed half the dining area into a gift shop and focused the dining space in the room on the southwest corner of the inn. Anyone checking into the motel as well as diners will have a clear view of what the gift shop offers.
“We’re trying to direct all the traffic into that one area as much as possible,” said Jesse Clutts.
The gift shop is already open, with an inventory that mixes work by local artists with a collection of items perfect for gift shopping.
“We hope to bring new stuff in all the time and keep it new and constantly changing,” said Clutts. “It’s not just a tourist shop. It’s for locals and guests.”

Real Eyes Photography
Owner: Erica Harrington
Open: May 18, grand opening May 25.
Location: Corner of Sterling Highway and Old Sterling Highway

Photography began as a hobby about 11 years ago, but has grown to a driving passion for Erica Harrington. So much so that Harrington is opening a photo gallery and studio in the space once used as Anchor River Inn’s office.
“We have a lot of art galleries with people that display photography, but not a place that’s photography only,” said Harrington. “My long-term goal is to have other artists that may not be able to afford to have a gallery able to exchange displaying their art for working in the gallery. … I would feel comfortable with another five artists.”
Following the advice of her father-in-law and local photographer Stan Harrington, as well as Bryan Zak, regional director for the South West Alaska Small Business Development Center, Harrington has carefully crafted a business plan, researched what is and isn’t offered up and down the Kenai Peninsula, and is planning for the future.
Having a studio will allow Harrington to handle requests that are beyond capturing images of Alaska landscapes.
“I have a lot of girls come to me that want to be aspiring models and I’m helping them do portfolios,” she said.
Networking with other photographers also will allow Harrington to recommend photographers for specific requests.
“I want to help people realize the art, the potential of photography,” she said. “This is not your standard point-and-shoot. I do the normal, typical ‘smile pretty for the camera,’ but I do abstract as well.”

Owner: John Cox
Hours: 6 a.m.-8 or 9 p.m., seven days a week
Location: Corner of Sterling Highway and North Fork Road

Having one business — snowplowing — isn’t enough for John Cox, who also serves as the president of the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce.
On Feb. 1, Cox opened Smokin’ in an area of Anchor Point Supply.
“We’re catering toward the fine cigars and loose tobacco, but we do have cigarettes, which is the staple of any smoke shop,” said Cox.
The decision to open the business came after Cox recognized a need existed.
“Most of the people in this area, anywhere from Ninilchik, Happy Valley, Anchor Point, all have to drive all the way down to Homer for their tobacco products,” said Cox. “With the price of gas, that just isn’t feasible. It’s expensive enough, with 80 percent going for taxes, so to drive that far for a pack of cigarettes is $16, $17 if you figure in gas.”
That said, he also is beginning to notice customers coming from the south.
Opening the doors at 6 a.m. means Cox is ready for business when the morning work-bound traffic begins increasing on the Sterling Highway.
In addition to cigars and tobacco, Cox also carries pipes made by local artist R. J. Austin, is knowledgeable about the importance of humidity and stocks battery-operated Vapage e-cigarettes.
“We don’t have the typical grocery story litany of tobacco products,” said Cox. “I carry what customers are specifically asking for because it’s so expensive to get started in this business.”

Dragonfly Nails by Dee
Owner: Dee Bottineau
Current hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; other times by appointment
Location: Corner of Sterling Highway and North Fork Road

Local diners might know Dee Bottineau for the cooking she’s done at local restaurants. However, after three decades of working as a chef, Bottineau has made a career change.
A month ago she opened Dragonfly Nails by Dee in the New Image Salon in Anchor Point.
“I have a whole menu of stuff,” she said of the types of manicures and pedicures she offers for men and women.
Trained at doing acrylic, silk and gel nails, Bottineau is particularly fond of the gel variety.
“They’re stronger, last longer, are shinier and wear better,” she said.
She also offers paraffin hand facials, a mini version of manicures, can remove nail extensions gently and safely, and provides repairs to damaged nails.
Because Bottineau lives out East End Road, she tries to consolidate appointments and suggests clients call New Image at 235-5354.
“Walk-ins are welcome, but they might have to wait,” she said.

Anchor Point Natural Foods
Owner: Tara Kain
Hours: Noon-6 p.m., Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday
Website: and
Location: 33457 Sterling Highway

The small, single occupant building next to the Fly Box at 33457 Sterling Highway is bursting at the seams with a selection of organic and natural groceries, thanks to owner Tara Kain.
“It includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, produce, packaged foods and bulk foods,” said Kain of Anchor Point Natural Foods’ inventory.
In addition, Kain is offering customers the opportunity to special order bulk items, such as beans, rice and grains, or case quantities of favorite products “and get a discount that way,” she said.
After telling people she’s opening up a natural foods store, Kain said one of the most frequently asked questions she gets is, “Are you going to carry gluten-free foods?” The answer: yes.
“I don’t eat a whole lot of gluten, so over the years I’ve got to know a lot of gluten-free products and am excited to help people with that,” she said.
Kain also will be helping people find alternatives for the foods with which people are most commonly allergic, such as corn, dairy and nuts.
“I also want to make a big push toward getting as much local stuff as I can in the store,” she said, defining local as “not just Anchor Point or Homer or Kasilof, but all of Alaska. I’m trying to get what I can closest and then expanding from there.”
Some of those products include bread made from Sourdough Fresh Cafe, a barbecue sauce made in Kasilof and dog cookies from Homer Hounds.
While her available space may be a bit limited, Kain isn’t worried.
“I’ve been known for being able to put a lot of things in a small space,” she said. “I’ll have a pretty good selection.”

Thimble Tree
Owner: Linda Stubbert
Contact: 299-1692

The quality of Linda’s Stubbert’s sewing — everything from boat upholstery and saddle repairs to curtain-making and alterations — isn’t new, but the workspace she’s found in Anchor Point is.
Stubbert has set up shop in space next to New Image Salon, near the corner of the Sterling Highway and North Fork Road.
Last winter, she headquartered in workspace at her farm, but heavy snowfall caused the roof to cave in and she found herself in need of a new location.
“I can do just about anything and have all kinds of machines and I’ve finally found a building big enough for all my stuff,” said Stubbert.
She doesn’t keep specific hours and she doesn’t have anything more than a “we sew stuff” butcher-paper sign on her shop door, but that hasn’t slowed down the work.
With a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Stubbert said she is aware the way she manages her business — no sign and no set hours, for example — isn’t the recommended approach, but the apparent need for her services keeps the customers coming. That makes the new location that much more important.
“I can keep all my fabric and my machines dry and it’s a nice big open space,” she said. “I’ve got it alls set up.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

Erica Harrington has set May 18 as the opening of Real Eyes Photography, located at Anchor River Inn.

Erica Harrington has set May 18 as the opening of Real Eyes Photography, located at Anchor River Inn.