Trading Posts have been an important part of Alaskan and American history. More than a place to barter goods, trading posts became a bridge or catalyst for building or breaching trust and relationships between cultures.
Now in the day of magnetic strips and bar code scanners comes a taste of the past at the new Kenai River Trading Post on K-Beach Rd., near the Poppy Lane intersection. The family owned and operated business features a variety of the same type of items that you would have found at the turn of the last century posts on the Kenai Peninsula, like furs from local trappers, mittens and horse saddles. The 21st Century isn't left behind however, with a just a quick glance around as you walk through the door, you notice everything from a Harley Davidson motorcycle to TV's, DVD's, video tapes and games, guitars, watches, power tools and computers.
Allen Wiser, the entrepreneur of the Kenai River Trading Post, credits his friends at the Kenai Pawn Store with getting him started in the business, "I have to thank Jerry and Craig, they gave me my first start, and Jerry Sr. and Wanda always treated me like part of the family," said Wiser. A former equipment operator in the oil field, Allen found himself out of work in the winter of 1995 and going broke fast when he was offered a job as manager at the Kenai Pawn Shop. Wiser says the pawn business reminds him of the TV shows Let's Make a Deal, or The Price is Right, "I really love the wheeling and dealing and I just want folks to come on down or go see Al." Wiser is assisted at the trading post by his wife, children and a 130-pound Rottweiler, his goal for the shop is to be able to help local artists and craftsmen, "I call it the starving artists show where I'll be featuring items here in the store during the winter months when the tourist season sort of dies off," says Wiser. So if you're looking for a taste of old Alaskan bartering, stop by the Kenai River Trading Post, you'll walk away with more than a good deal on something you've always wanted, you have a new friend in the Wiser family, but talk nice to the Rottweiler.
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