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Who Will Fill Gap If U.S. Retailers Leave Alaska?

October 08, 1989

After roughing it in Denali National Park, Alaska, in August, it was a pleasure to visit Fairbanks and experience city life again. After registering at the hotel, we walked back to Nordstrom to shop for a sweater. So I can understand the reaction of Fairbanks residents to the closing of the store ("Fairbanks Shoppers Picket Nordstrom Store," Sept. 11).

The presence of the store was a factor in our assessment of the town. But now, what will the full-time residents, and those who come down from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, do without this retail outlet? The suggestion is that they fly to Anchorage to shop; that's like telling Angelenos to fly to San Francisco. There are no competing stores in Anchorage on Nordstrom's level.

Last night I finished Michener's book "Alaska." The last chapters emphasize the Lower 48's disinterest in what happens up there. He warns that Russia and Japan would love to fill the vacuum. If Nordstrom leaves, maybe Takeshimaya stores will put in a branch; or as part of glasnost, the Soviets might put in an extension of their Moscow-run retail establishment.

MURIEL SVEC

Santa Monica

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