Introducing The Writer’s Block: Built by Spenardians

According to Vered Mares, if you’re looking for a wide selection of Alaskan-written books in Anchorage, you’ll have to buy a ticket out-of-town.

“The only other bookstore in the city that sells a really terrific selection of Alaska books is in the airport at Mosquito Books, but you have to have a boarding pass to get there,” Mares said.

Mares notes that the Anchorage bowl has several bookstores, but each with its own niche. Title Wave is located off of Northern Lights Blvd. in Spenard, but resells used books. Barnes and Noble sells more generic and national selling books, but neither establishment has a large selection of books written by locals. 

“I started a small publishing house in Spenard in 2011, and one of the biggest gaps that I saw here in Anchorage was that we do not have a good outlet for bookstores that sell new books, especially for small publishers and unknown but up-and-coming writers,” Mares said.

Mares, Spenard resident, wants to create a venue in the Anchorage area for new books written by local writers who have yet to make it big, and is hoping to change this with The Writer’s Block.

Spenard Road will have the new multi-purpose establishment come fall-time, equipped with coffee, beer and wine, music and books. The Writer’s Block hopes to provide a venue for a variety of events to the Spenard and Anchorage community.

 

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Photo courtesy of The Northern Light.

Mares was inspired to purchase Adults Only, a pornography shop in Spenard that existed for decades, in October of 2015 and since then is completely rebuiling the establishment from the ground up. The old building was composed of two trailers struck together, which was demolished last month.

 

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Photo courtesy of The Northern Light.

Currently, construction of the new building is underway along Spenard Road, which will be twice the size of the original complex. By the beginning of August, there should be walls on the foundation.

“The building itself is designed around a multi-use concept. So there’s a semi-private room that can be cordoned off for small workshop events, but there’s also a stage and performance area, which we can use for literary events or readings or lecture series or musical performances. After talking to many local musicians, there wasn’t a good venue for listening spaces,” Mares said.

Construction funding came from Denali Federal Credit Union, a local bank for The Writer’s Block’s main funding. Mares recognizes the importance of local establishments, since much of the designs and plans have been created by local individuals. The architect that Mares hired has an office just three blocks away from The Writer’s Block. Mares hopes that the community will support The Writer’s Block and encourage its success.

“We want this to be a center hub for the neighborhood and a community gathering place, where your kids can come after school and hang out in the young adults section, or your little one can come with you and hang out in the children’s book section while you have a glass of wine at the end of your work day,” Mares said. “You can meet your friends there and catch a literary event or show, or see some artwork that currently isn’t on display elsewhere and discover something new, not just about literature, music and art, but discover something new that you didn’t know you were looking for.”

Jessica Stugelmayer, Spenard resident, has lived in the area since last year. She hopes that the new establishment will make Spenard more accessible by foot traffic.

“I moved to Anchorage from a town that was very bike-friendly and walkable. It was a hard adjustment for me to drive so much. With the construction on multiple parts of Spenard and this new cafe, as well as other shops and restaurants, I hope it makes people feel like they can walk, shop and eat in their own neighborhood,” Stugelmayor said. “I love that Writer’s Block will be a coffee shop that I can walk to from my house and a venue for music.”

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Photo courtesy of The Northern Light.

The business is anticipating on opening its doors in November and will be hiring towards the end of September for baristas and staff.

For updates on the The Writer’s Block, visit their Facebook page.

Alaskan-made intimates by Love, 49 will make trunk show debut at The Beauty Room

Bea Barth learned how to hand sew from her aunt in the Philippines where she grew up. Now Barth, alongside her best friend Kristina Carlson, has launched one of Alaska’s first intimates company. Love, 49 began in February of this year after Barth and Carlson saw a limited market of local handmade lingerie in Anchorage.

Love, 49’s intimates will soon be available to purchase at local boutique and spa, The Beauty Room. A Marie Antoinette themed trunk show, which will take place from 4-7 p.m. July 14, will showcase Love, 49’s current collections. Following the trunk show, Barth’s collections will be available full time for purchase at The Beauty Room. Orders can also be made through The Beauty Room if a size or collection is not available in store.

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Photo courtesy of Love, 49.

Barth hopes that the collaboration with The Beauty Room will establish a larger known presence of the business among Anchorage residents.

“Hopefully with The Beauty Room, a lot of other small, local businesses will see that we’re out here, kind of more exposure in that sense. All in all, we just want to show the community that they need to support local,” Barth said.

Barth, who attended elementary and high school in Spenard, designs the intimates and helps with marketing. There are two seamstresses on contract besides her and Carlson, who split duties of managing the business.

Love, 49 offers sizes online that range from small to large, but custom orders are available for anyone to purchase at no additional cost.

“Our main goal is to make everyone feel like they belong and make everyone feel beautiful,” Barth said.

Chelsea Johnston is the marketing and event coordinator and buyer for The Beauty Room. Johnston heard the buzz about Love, 49 from social media and friends who had modeled the intimates in photo shoots.

“For me, it seemed like all of a sudden I was hearing about Love, 49 from everyone! I was seeing the gorgeous items, hearing about their quality… When I learned about how the products were locally handmade and about their mission to support other small local companies by getting their supplies from them, I was sold,” Johnston said. “We at The Beauty Room wholeheartedly believe in supporting local and shopping small so we love working with other companies that have the same ethical values; I also believe in the items themselves. Not only are the pieces beautiful, but the bralettes are also supportive and fit various body types.”

Anchorage resident, Erin Lee discovered Love, 49 on Instagram around Valentine’s Day. Since then, she has ordered several sets from Barth.

“I love the fact that each set is handmade and unique. I’m a huge supporter of local small businesses, as I hope to start my own small business one day. I love the sense of community you get from purchasing from someone local, and the genuine passion they have for producing such gorgeous and comfortable sets,” Lee said.

Barth hopes to release a new collection of intimates before the end of summer.

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Photo courtesy of Love, 49.

“The nice thing about everything handmade is that you can make it however you want. That’s what we’re here for,” Barth said.

Love, 49’s trunk show will take place July 14, 4 – 7 p.m. at The Beauty Room.

The Beauty Room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Beauty Room is closed on Sundays. To view more of Barth’s intimates, or to inquire about custom orders visit love49ak.com.

The Spenard Food Truck Carnival is now open for 2017 summer season

By Victoria Petersen

Hot dogs? Cupcakes? Kimchi fried rice? With half a dozen or so food trucks lined up under the windmill, you’re bound to find something that will feed your appetite. The Spenard Food Truck Carnival, a weekly carnival featuring local food trucks and fire dancers, opened today for the 2017 summer season.

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The carnival will be up and running every Thursday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. until the end of the summer in the Koot’s parking lot, 2435 Spenard Road.

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Photos by Young Kim.

Nearly 50 residents displaced by fatal apartment fire

By Victoria Petersen

Two residents died and 16 others were injured early Wednesday, Feb. 15 after a fire broke out at Royal Suite Apartments on Spenard Road and Minnesota Drive.
The fire is currently under investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


The fence around the Royal Suite Apartments has transformed into a memorial with teddy bears and signs of hope displayed prominetly against the perimeter of the charred building.