Chances are, by now you have heard about AK Crave. Jessica Danielson, owner and confectioner for AK Crave, may have catered an event you attended, or perhaps you saw her pop-up shops at the various Holiday bazaars as she spent the last several years establishing the foundations for her brand new storefront, which opened on June 2nd. She’s gone and done it now, though, and Downtown Association is thrilled to call AK Crave both neighbor and member. Continue reading for a closer look at this fabulous new addition to Fairbanks!
When pulling up to 505 Illinois Street, it becomes quickly apparent that AK Crave was once a residence. The old house has fresh paint: white, punctuated by red trim, but it was built in the 1930s by the original Fairbanks Exploration Company, as a housing unit for members of management. The building is on the National Historic Register, and on approach, it’s easy to see why.
The surrounding Alders pick up the breeze and send it wafting toward the screened porch; it’s the kind of porch that probably once was home to a swing. Even through its many refurbishes, the house feels old; there are creaky doors and floor boards, and an original fireplace. The kitchen is visible from the porch as well, and I can hear the clanging of metal pots inside. It’s easy to forget that knocking or ringing a doorbell isn’t necessary.
Inside it’s immediately clear that things are tidy, and orderly. There’s a long, dark wood plank table, surrounded by inset shelving that is covered, but not teeming, with merchandise. The Punny Pots section, for example, features pots neatly stacked in rows of 3, against a canvas of meticulously painted green, the same green featured in AK Crave’s logo. On them is stenciled things like, “Succ it,” “I will survive,” and, “Herb your enthusiasm.” If you venture around the corner, a former bedroom is the place to browse uniquely Alaskan baby and children’s items, like those super adorable Alaskan-themed flash cards: I is for Iditarod.
Jessica follows me from room-to-room, patiently traveling with me as I undulate between sighs of appreciation for this well tended space, and questions about the history of the building and her mission as a shop owner. I stop in the hallway to admire Jessica herself: She stands propped against the checkout counter, adjusting a hair pin while she talks. I realize that she embodies her space: Jessica impresses upon me the image of everyone’s most hospitable friend who sips tea on the porch with you and also gives sound advice; but this can only be her if in your mind’s eye, you’re picturing the same woman with the perfect red lipstick. She’s Rockabilly and she’s reliably elegant, just like AK Crave. And she makes the best peanut butter truffles.
She tells me that she’s just found a new small distributor; to be honest, I am having a hard time focusing because I’m imagining what she’s going to dress this place up in at Christmastime. Then she tells me that she’s opening up a maker space in the back room, and she’s collaborating with local farmers to sell their wares and their produce outside in the yard. Do you have goosebumps yet? Nothing offered in this space hasn’t been carefully chosen to represent Alaska in and to the Fairbanks population. Jessica is more than a buyer; she’s a curator, and it shows in every detail of presentation. Visiting this wonderful space is a lesson in the Alaskan experience, not just a request for your money. If the small-batch, truly locally crafted items from makers who live and work right here in Alaska don’t lure you into this space, or the fudge and marshmallows and chocolate dipped pretzels don’t do it, it’ll be Jessica herself. It’ll be the feeling that the time you spend here is sort of magical, like visiting old, well-tended houses in the South. This is a vacation from the average shopping experience, and we highly recommend you stop in for a taste of AK Crave.
505 Illinois Street
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10a-6p