Member Spotlight: Ukanuzit

Q&A With Shelly Shank and Melissa Houselog of Ukanuzit

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

In 2014, Michelle Blalock, Melissa Houselog, Brad Entwisle and Shelly Shank opened a local thrift store, Ukanuzit. They are supported by items donated by the community, which they then sell for reasonable prices. While they are not a non-profit, they do give back to the community in the form of scholarships, prizes and donated items for charities and events.

We recently sat down with Shelly and Melissa to learn more about the journey all four owners have taken to run a small business in Seward.
These four have made Seward a hot spot for second-hand shopping. L to R: Melissa Houselog, Shelly Shank, Michelle Blalock, Brad Entwisle. Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit

What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

Shelly: We all love this community. We have a very giving and caring community and we are proud to be part of it.
Melissa: Ukanuzit has been fulfilling and a true labor of love. Our customers are the best!


What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

S: Last year, blogger Trent Jonas rated us the #1 thrift store in the State of Alaska. Since the Seward community is so great about donating items to us, we have a ton of inventory to turn over and are making a name for ourselves as a “funky boutique” with a lot to offer.

Family fun means dressing up at Ukanuzit! Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

S: Our prices are lower than the thrift stores in Anchorage. We actually have a customer base that travels from Anchorage to shop with us.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

S: We are proud of the relationships that we have gained. Our store seems to be a great meeting place for some.
M: Knowing that we have helped keep tons of stuff out of the landfill and keeping prices low so we can offer treasures to people in Seward is truly a heartwarming and rewarding experience. It really is a dream come true.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…Ukanuzit brings happiness to all! Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

S: People tell us we are the best thrift store they have ever been to.
Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.
S: Jumping into our business was our biggest risk and it has paid off with a lot of hard work and support.

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

S: The biggest one would be to “Make sure there is a need for the business”.
 Feature Image: Kids find rainy day fun dressing up at the local thrift store. Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.


For more information about Ukanuzit click here, call 907.224-5268, or head down to 339 5th Avenue in Seward.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051.