Windsocks give boost to struggling business

Alaska-themed windsocks have helped draw customers to Sue’s Knives & More. (June 26, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Windsocks decorated with designs inspired by Alaska Native art and U.S. Coast Guard heraldry have helped draw customers to a store suffering the business-slowing effects of the coronavirus.

Sue’s Knives & More has offered decorative windsocks for 15 years, but this year’s stock, featuring new, Alaska-themed designs, has proven especially popular. A hand-embroidered Coast Guard design, absent for years, also made its return.

“I have things that are unique, that nobody else in town has,” owner Sue Ervin said — a claim backed up by an inventory ranging from harmonicas and kites to disc golf discs and samurai swords. The windsocks, ranging in price from $18 to $32, have helped remind residents that Sue’s Knives & More sells more than knives.

Lillian Ervin-Adkinson hangs windsocks at Sue’s Knives & More. (June 26, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

“The windsocks have really brought people in for me this year, because it’s something fun and refreshing,” Ervin said. “People love ’em. But I don’t have near the business that I had, because everyone’s so much on lockdown. The cannery workers — I understand why they’ve got ’em quarantined, but I truly hope that they get to a point where they let them out, because I’m not positive I’ll make it without them.”

For three months, purchases dried up almost entirely, aside from the occasional guitar string, Ervin said. The store stocks many items that cannery workers purchase to take home to their families when they leave in the fall. Now, it’s uncertain whether the fall business rush she depends on will come at all, as canneries around Cordova have pledged to keep their workers quarantined on campus to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Sue’s Knives & More is currently open only on Fridays and Saturdays.

“I’ve been in business for over 20 years, so the idea of going out of business worries me,” Ervin said. “Even if I did go out of business, who would come to buy it? It’s kind of scary.”