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  6.  | Blue Market AK Wins 2023 Alaska Grown $5 Store Challenge

Blue Market AK Wins 2023 Alaska Grown $5 Store Challenge

Jan 25, 2024 | Agriculture

The Blue Market AK team stands outside the store in Spenard.

Blue Market AK

Innovation and creativity helped the two women who founded the Spenard Blue Market AK store in 2019 to win the Alaska Division of Agriculture’s 2023 Alaska Grown $5 Store Challenge.

More Local, Less Waste

Jess Johnson and Jen Gordon joined up to found Blue Market AK on the guiding principles of sustainability, transparency, and community. Johnson is a committed “locavore,” as well as a hobby perma-culturalist who strives for a zero-waste lifestyle. The store is an outgrowth of her frustration with having to travel long distances to procure bulk and reusable packaged, locally grown or locally made products. She went from farmers market to farmer market and was a member of several Community Supported Agriculture, Fishery, and Milk programs.

Gordon joined the venture for a different reason. A sailor by trade, she was concerned by the number of plastics she encountered in the ocean and on Alaska beaches, which demonstrated to her the problem with single-use plastics and their effect on the environment.

Gordon and Johnson met through a mutual acquaintance and a quick connection and partnership was formed. Their business model is shaped around a local food focus and a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics using a zero-waste shopping model. The result is a shopping experience that feels community-oriented and inviting, supportive of Alaska farmers and producers, and impactful on the amount of food waste that enters Alaska landfills and waterways.

Current Issue

Alaska Business May 2024 Cover

May 2024

Promotion Commotion

The three-foot carrot, mounted on Alaska birch, is the “trophy” for the 2023 Division of Agriculture’s “Golden Carrot” award, given to a business that best promotes the $5 Alaska Grown Store Challenge. Displaying the award is Jen Gordon, co-founder of Blue Market AK in Spenard.

Blue Market AK

The Blue Market AK won the Division of Agriculture’s “Golden Carrot” award not only for its commitment to selling local goods, but for its marketing creativity and innovation in promoting Alaska Grown products.

Johnson and Gordon incorporated Alaska Grown $5 Challenge displays in an effort to educate and promote the importance of supporting locally produced Alaska Grown products. Their displays included important information about Alaska’s food system to encourage informed purchasing decisions for their customers. The six-month competition encourages businesses to, in turn, encourage shoppers to spend $5 each week on Alaska Grown products. A tool used throughout the competition was their Blue Market AK social media page to promote #buyAlaskaGrown, highlighting the many farms and Alaska Grown products with a quarterly membership sale of “$5 off of $5 or more in purchases of Alaska Grown products.”

“Blue Market AK is an exciting and fitting winner of the Alaska Grown $5 Challenge this year—they have gone above and beyond in promoting the importance of purchasing Alaska Grown products with their innovative displays and promotions,” says Bryan Scoresby, director of the Division of Agriculture. “Over the last four years, they have contributed to and made a real impact on the community, which is why they were the clear winners of this annual award.”

Alaska Business May 2024 cover
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Making History

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The track of oil and gas development in Alaska shows the footprints of bold companies and hard-working individuals who shaped the industry in the past and continue to innovate today. The May 2024 issue of Alaska Business explores that history while looking forward to new product development, the energy transition for the fishing fleet, and the ethics of AI tools in business.

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