Debrah Clements, with her 19-month-old daughter, Ezmae, talks about the airport shopping district at their shop, Martha’s Flowers, in the Airport Shopping Center on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Businesses near airport band together

Small signs have begun popping up in the windows of businesses near the Juneau International Airport: “Proud member of Juneau’s Airport Shopping District.”

Still in its infancy, this new collaboration seeks to bring businesses together to support and promote one another. Debrah Clements, who owns Martha’s Flowers &Gifts, is one of the founders and said she hopes the group ends up being similar to the Downtown Business Association.

“We have so many cool businesses out here,” Clements said. “It just doesn’t make sense that we’re not more of a collaborative group.”

Clements said she’s been picking the mind of Sydney Mitchell, the Shoefly owner who recently opened a new branch near the airport. Other founding members include Aurora Sweets, Bec’s Home Boutique, Freya Romance Boutique, Mommy n Me, The Northern Tea House and Sunrise Clothing. Other businesses have jumped on board recently as well, Clements said.

The group is still working on getting the word out, putting up the small signs in the windows and starting up a Facebook page titled Juneau’s Airport Shopping District. The page will post about special events or news about businesses in the district. Clements hopes other businesses in the area reach out to her or message the Facebook page to get involved.

While downtown businesses feature events on the first Friday of every month, the Airport Shopping District is starting to set up events to take place on the final Friday of every month. This month, on Feb. 23, there will be a scavenger hunt that will be called a “shop hop” where people bounce between a few businesses in the area.

The shopping district will include businesses within two miles of the airport, Clements said, including the Mendenhall Mall, Nugget Mall, the Airport Shopping Mall, the Airport Mini Mall, Old Dairy Road and Dunn Street. Clements said about 25 businesses have either joined up or reached out to her.

“They’re coming in very quickly, and we’re trying to figure out exactly what that means for their participation and what it means to be a member,” Clements said. “It really is social media and collaborative partnering based.”

There will be meetings soon to get business owners together and talking, Clements said. The aim is to get people on the same page soon, as she has her eye on the upcoming Gold Medal Tournament as a chance to introduce people to the shops. Dozens of people will be coming in from communities around Southeast for the annual tournament (which runs March 18-24), and Clements hopes to get the word out to them about the shopping options near the airport.

Clements is the third generation to own the business (Martha was her grandmother, she said), and said she’s been encouraged by the growth in the airport area in recent years. Spearheading this collaboration has allowed her to meet more of her fellow business owners, which she said has been enlightening.

Clements said she hopes the group remains fairly relaxed, and she and the other founding members don’t want businesses to have to pay member fees to join.

“We really want it to be a little more community-oriented than that and less official in a lot of ways,” Clements said, “so just be a family of businesses working together.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.