Cruise port shopping guarantees quirky local products, tee-shirts and sweatshirts labeled with the local name and symbol, as well as jewelry and souvenirs. Some is good, some is ugly and some is made in China.
What to buy: The Glacier Silt Soap and embroidered fleece vests caught my eye.
This is a warning against doing business with the Alaska Fur Gallery, in Anchorage, which operates during the summer cruise season in Juneau Fur Gallery. I left a custom made leather coat to be repaired. Their work was late and lacked all quality. They ignored my instructions and made the jacket worse rather than better (They sewed my pockets closed.) I will not shop there again.
If you happen to come into any town that is frequented by cruise ships, you will likely be overwhelmed by the souvenir shops. By the time you get to your second port, you will see that the exact same stores will be in that port as were in the first port. The only difference will be the name of the town on t-shirts and magnets has been changed. It is actually very tiring.
I would recommend going into one store to pick up your postcards and whatever you might collect (magnet, keychain, Christmas ornament, etc.) and then skip going into the rest of the cheap souvenir stores.
Instead visit some of the galleries/stores that sell native Alaskan items and support the local economy. Check the item to see whether it's been made in Alaska or China!
What to buy: An Ulu knife is a nice and useful reminder of your trip. Alaskan dolls, jewelry, totem poles, dream catchers, masks, and paintings /prints also make nice souvenirs. Have some salmon sent home too!
The Mount Juneau Trading Post is a great place to browse around in or to buy Native American craft items because the store is owned by a Native family. A good percentage of the proceeds from the sales there also go to the artists themselves. The shop has a lot of leather goods made from caribou hides, wooden and bone carvings, beads, masks and things made from whale bone and narwhal tusks. Items range in price from just a few dollars to several thousand depending on what you buy, its size and how long it took the artist to make. The store will also ship purchases home for you.
What to buy: There were a lot of great things in this shop, but my favorite had to be the jewelry made from mammoth ivory. Mammoth ivory! Wow.
Common sense dictates that where there are tourists, there will be gift shops! You will find that Juneau, the same as other major towns on the cruise ship route, has more than its fair share of shops but as you know, Alaska does have some unique gifts to offer. One such type of gift is that which is not even produced in Alaska!! There are probably more shops selling Russian goods in Alaska than anywhere outside of Europe and Russia itself! Russian lacquerware, religious icons, amber and Faberge jewelry appeal to alot of people and so you will find it in many stores in Juneau. It is best to do some research on how to spot good quality before you make a significant investment in any of these items.
What to buy: Some Juneau shops carry exquisitly painted Matryoshka dolls (nesting dolls) and miniture boxes and larger pieces, as well as hand-carved Christmas figurines. Russian religious icons often with silver adornments are popular too.
Generally the more detailed and intricate the painting or carving, the more expensive the item will be. Scenes of Palekh, and Icons of Mstera, and mother-of-pearl designs from the master artists of Fedoskino are in a relatively high price bracket, but definitely worth the price for the serious collector and those people without a serious chance of visiting Russia itself!
Amber jewelry seems to be gaining popularity once again. Faberge Jewelry and Russian porcelain are also to be found in stores specializing in Russian art.
What to pay: From as little as $10 for the common version of Matroyoshka dolls to several thousand dollars. The better Laquer boxes are usually priced from $35 to several thousand dollars. Amber jewelry can run from around $10 - $20 and up. For Faberge jewelry and Russian porcelain, you can expect prices to start in the hundreds of dollars.
Perhaps the ONLY shop on your entire Alaska cruise featuring affordable quality souvenirs and gifts actually made in Alaska by Alaskans.!
This locally owned and operated shop is located directly opposite the Tram at the cruise ship terminal.
What to buy: Everything from hand-made Alaskan jewelry, hand-made eskimo dolls to breath-taking Alaskan art and photography is here!
What to pay: It all depends what interests you - the range is from a few dollars to hundreds-
Head out to the valley and go to Fred Myers department store. It has EVERYTHING. Clothes, toys, household and sports good as well as groceries.
What to buy: Good enough range of souveniers in the Office aisle and great value in baseball caps, jackets etc with Juneau or Alaska on them. Much cheaper than downtown.
Of of the largest "gift" stores in Juneau, Alaska Shirt Company is usually one of the first stores visited by tourists and one where you can find many souvenirs of all types at bargain prices in most cases. T-Shirts (about $5 and up), sweatshirts (about $29.95), hats ($5) and other clothing items seem to be big favorites. There are, of course, postcards, travel videos, boxed smoked salmon, jewelry, keychains, pens and pins!
What to buy: A couple of unique items are the wooden "salad paws" shapped to look like polar bear paws which are actually used to toss salads. Not only do they do a fine job for tossing salads but they are quite unique and make good, inexpensive gifts and souvenirs!!
Another unique souvenir in the jewelry line are the "black diamonds"--I'm not sure exactly what the back diamonds are made of really, but they are made into earrings, necklaces and bracelets. They are highly polished, and come in attractive designs and are suprisingly inexpensive!!
UNFORTUNATELY, except for the salmon products and a few other things, most items are not produced in Alaska!!
What to pay: If you need to bring back some souvenirs in volume, such as to school children, this may be the right place since many things are US $1 or less! Bookmarks, pins, postcards, keychains, thimbles and the like are best bought here. Cruise ships generally offer coupon books to tourists, to their delight, which make certain items a phenomenal value.
You cannot travel in Alaska without realizing just how important Salmon is to the state and to tourism. You'll find it delightfully packaged in gift stores, at every restaurant, and we even had some wonderful smoked salmon mousse on crackers on our Whale Watching and Wildlife excursion! At the Taku Smokieries you can see, hear and taste how Juneau-caught salmon is smoked and packaged.
At Taku you can purchase smoked seafood such as halibut fillets and cooked King Crab legs as well as the smoked salmon, but if smoked is not the way you like it, they will flash-freeze the seafood in insulated containers to ship to your address! You won't be sorry you tried it!!
Taku Smokeries is open year round.
What to buy: Smoked, dried, cooked salmon, halibut, and King Crab Legs are the delicasies here!! "Stop in for a taste of Juneau!" Check out their website for all their products and price lists. This is a great place to pick up gifts of Alaskan seafood or you can order for yourself or friends from their website!!
What to pay: Varies depending on the weight and type of product.
Ben Franklin seemed like an old fashioned variety store, but in reality it is considered a craft store. We were here at the end of the season but found the prices much more reasonable than the Franklin Street shops. They have all the usual items without the polish or the price of the cruise ship stores.
What to buy: Usual Alaskan souvenir items: mugs, smoked and canned salmon, birch syrup, ulu knives, mugs, t-shirts, sweat shirts, fleece items, rain panchos.....
What to pay: We found nice souvenir mugs for $2.95, sweat shirts and fleece wear for $12.99.
For an assortment of souvenirs in Juneau try the shops along the wharf area. They sell everything you could possibly imagine.
What to buy: T-shirts, postcards, all assortment of souvenirs.