Sacred Shine hasn’t done much advertising, but the new auto shop is already booked up through the middle of next month.
Word has spread quickly about the shop, owned by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) and located on Village Street just behind the Willoughby Building on Willoughby Avenue.
The tribe owns the building, which was more or less a storage area until recently. They keep a snowplow in the garage, and used the rest of the building for storing files. It’s mostly cleaned out, and has been open for a couple months as the auto detailing shop.
Business and Economic Development Director Emily Edenshaw said they were trying to figure out what to do with the building when an idea fell in their lap.
Calvin Olsen began working at an auto detailing shop in Ketchikan in 2009 and grew to love it. He ended up moving up to Juneau with his wife recently, and was working for CCTHITA earlier this year. One day, he noticed one of CCTHITA’s cars was still a little dirty after it came back from being cleaned and he offered to work on it.
He was told that because the car was a government car, it had to be cleaned at a professional shop. Olsen, 31, then started talking with Edenshaw and others about how to get this business up and running. Just months later, Olsen is the lead detailer in the shop and is the main contact for when people want to set up an appointment. Anybody can make an appointment.
On Friday morning, Olsen was working on a red Jeep. He took a break from vacuuming the carpets to do an interview, and explained that working there makes the days go by quickly, and offers him a chance to give back.
“I like the start of it, when you get a really dirty car and you make it look new and the customer comes in happy,” Olsen said. “I like the work.”
Sacred Shine followed in the footsteps of Sacred Grounds, a coffee shop in the Andrew Hope Building that opened in the summer of 2017. CCTHITA owns that shop, too, and tribal leaders have their eyes on opening more businesses down the road. CCTHITA President Chaylee Éesh Richard Peterson said getting these businesses started benefits the tribe and the people working at the businesses.
Peterson was re-elected earlier this spring, and said one of his main campaign points was economic development.
“It’s kind of become a win-win for us, because we have that obligation to help our tribal citizens,” Peterson said. “We’re able to do it through economic development and it’s sustainable.”
There are a number of CCTHITA projects in the works, including a new Sacred Grounds shop opening up next week in the Sealaska Corporation’s building at One Sealaska Plaza. The biggest goal, both Edenshaw and Peterson said, is getting a cultural immersion park built and operational in the location of the former Thane Ore House.
Edenshaw said Sacred Shine and other tribal businesses extend beyond the tribal citizens.
“One of the things we really try to emphasize is that, yes, there’s a financial bottom line with these businesses … but more importantly it’s an opportunity for our tribal citizens and a vehicle for us to really deepen our relationship with the community,” Edenshaw said.
The auto shop is booked until Jan. 10, Olsen said, but people can set up an appointment by calling 463-7775. Rates vary based on the size of the car and the work that’s requested, Olsen said. As an example, he pointed to the red Jeep that was in the shop Friday and said the rate for a large car like that is $240 for a full detail (cleaning inside and outside, waxing it, window cleanings, tire cleaning and more).
Peterson said he hopes to expand the shop in the future, and is open to hearing more from tribal citizens in terms of other business ideas.
“We want all of our citizens to have every opportunity to be the best versions of themselves,” Peterson said. “I’d say 90 percent of that’s on them, but if we can be that 10 percent that’s the spark or the catalyst to help them, that’s what we’re going to do.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.