By Gretchen Wehmhoff
When Nicole Goodman and her husband, George Butt, pulled their trailer into Skagway after driving cross-country from Florida, they knew they were home as soon as their heads hit the pillow.
“This is where we both wanted to be,” she said.
Goodman, the new president of the Skagway Chamber, came to Skagway the way millions of people do, on a cruise ship in 2015. But it was during a Panama Canal cruise that they met a young couple who lived and worked in Juneau. The pair was using their employee cruise benefit and shared their experiences working for a cruise company in Southeast Alaska.
“Our husbands had a bus driver connection,” said Goodman.
Butt had been driving buses for Disney in Florida. He put in his application to drive in Alaska for Holland America and their lives changed.
Goodman and Butt started as seasonal workers in Skagway for the first three years, but the months stretched out as he became a trainer for the company. Four months became eight months. She worked for Corringtons while he drove buses. The couple was living in their trailer in Skagway with a home in Florida until they cut their southern roots and became northerners.
Goodman said they bought a house in 2019 and prepared to start their business, Klondike Electric Bicycles to debut with the 2020 season.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed their expectations, but she has a positive outlook.
“We’ve worked out a lot of kinks,” she said.
Goodman says the move to Skagway was the best decision they could have made.
“Everyone is so welcoming, so kind and so willing to lend a hand.”
She said Skagwgians helped her figure out new terminology foriegn to having lived in a warm state all her life.
“At first I didn’t understand what it meant to winterize a trailer,” she said. “We didn’t have to worry about that.”
She also learned about furnaces, heating oil and pellet stoves and staying warm.
“We had the [air conditioning] on 95% of the time back home,” she laughed.
Goodman is excited to bring some new energy to the chamber.
She hopes to make upgrades to the website and help chamber businesses create more of a digital presence where they can sell their products online as well as on social media. She believes that people still want to come Skagway and will search on the internet for Skagway businesses. Returning visitors may contact stores they visited in the summer.
Goodman hopes to inspire the business community to get back some normalcy, even if it is local and not cruise driven. To start the fall, the chamber is adding an event.
Fall Frolic is designed to bring businesses and residents out for a fun day for shopping and eating. Businesses are encouraged to offer a drawing for an item and all entries will be put into a drawing for an event prize.
The Fall Frolic happens on the last Saturday of the month, Aug. 29. While stores and vendors may extend their hours, the targeted shopping window will be 11-3.
September will bring the Fall Round-up, an annual event for cleaning up the town before winter with some added fun.
The popular holiday event, Shop in Skagway, will be held November 27 through December 24.
As for Klondike Electric Bicycles, they are here for the long haul. The couple hope things will settle down in a few years so they will be able to get some traveling in during the winter.
After celebrity Simon Cowel seriously injured himself, there were rumors that e-bikes were in trouble. However, Forbes Magazine confirmed that Cowel was riding a more powerful electric motorcycle, a SWIND EB-01 electric motorbike, that reaches speeds up to 80 miles per hour, a vehicle not used in the United States right now. Klondike Bicycles use Rad Power Bikes that top off at 15-20 miles per hour.
Goodman says her bike business has been offering 50% off rentals to locals. She says it’s nice to see them used and hopes people enjoy them enough to help with referrals next summer. She and her husband love to get on the bikes.
“I just can’t ride them without smiling,” she said.