Fairbanks Shopping Guide

Students on a shopping spreeFairbanks is an expensive place to live by American standards. Many national corporations and the federal government allow their Alaskan employees an additional 25% on their paycheck due to the increased cost of living in Alaska. Prices in stores reflect the additional costs of transportation: some items come overland through Canada, but most are shipped by barge from Seattle. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are flown in daily.

Consumerism is an important part of the American economy and accounts for the bewildering variety of items available in the stores. There might be 28 different choices of toothpaste, but in fact there is virtually no functional difference between any of them. The wise shopper knows exactly what they want and then does rigorous cost comparisons to find the most economical choice.

Fairbanks Winter is very cold and you must be well covered and protected, visit our Winter Shopping page for more information.

To learn how to use the bus transportation in Fairbanks and which line to take.

The following is a small list of stores in Fairbanks.

Large Retail Stores:

  • Fred Meyer West, University Ave and Airport Way (Clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, small household appliances, home furnishings and groceries).
  • Fred Meyer East, Intersection of the Johansen Expressway and the Old Steese Highway (Clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, small household appliances, home furnishings and groceries).
  • Sears, 3115 Airport Way (Clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, household appliances and accessories).
  • Wal-Mart, Intersection of the Johansen Expressway and the Old Steese Highway (Clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, small household appliances, home furnishings and groceries).

Grocery Stores:

  • Safeway, Fred Meyer: There are only minor differences between the grocery sections of these stores; Safeway or Fred Meyer on Airport Way are closest to UAF. Advertisements announcing the weekly specials for each store appear in the Wednesday and Sunday newspaper. Both stores offer a Rewards Card for further discounts of groceries and fuel.
  • Asian Food Market, 935 Aurora Drive
  • Co-Op Market Grocery & Deli, 526 Gaffney Road
  • Homegrown Market, 3568 Geraghty Avenue
  • Sam’s Club, near Bentley Mall on College Road

Offers bulk goods at better prices than other stores, but requires a membership to shop there. The membership may be shared by two individuals.

  • Seoul Grocery, 958 Cowles Street, Suite 162
  • Sunshine Health Foods, 410 Trainor Gate Road
  • Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, 2600 College Road (open May – September)
  • Wal-Mart, Intersection of the Johansen Expressway and the Old Steese Highway.

Convenience Stores: (usually associated with gasoline: Holiday, Tesoro 2GO): 

These stores are convenient, but expensive compared to the larger grocery stores.

Furniture Stores:

A complete list of furniture stores carrying new furniture may be found online by searching Furniture stores in Fairbanks AK.

Winter and Outdoor Clothing, including boots, gloves, hats, face protection:

  • Beaver Sports, 3580 College Road. Within walking distance of campus; is a sports specialty shop and items can be expensive;
  • Big Rays, 507 2nd Downtown about three blocks from the Transit (bus) Terminal. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing;
  • Big Rays Annex, 3230 Airport Way. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing;
  • Frontier Outfitters and Woolly Rhino, 250 3rd Street, Suite 6. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing;
  • Prospector Outfitter, 1512 S. Cushman Street. Downtown on the Red Line (bus). Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing.
  • REI, 19 College Road, Unit A. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing.
  • Sports Authority, 391 Merhar Avenue. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing.
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse, 423 Merhar Avenue. Heavy duty winter and outdoor clothing.

Used Items: 

  • In the U.S. we are becoming more interested in recycling and, because of this, more used items are possible to find than ever before. Costs are typically much less than for new items. Following is a list of places where used items are available. Be sure to wash all used clothing before wearing it.
  • It can be expensive to move and start a new home or apartment. If that is your situation, and if your cultural attitudes allow, you should visit the stores that offer used merchandise. It is possible to find excellent items and save much money, but it might require some time spent searching.

UAF Free Store

The Free Store is an organized location that provides free clothing, dorm and household items, books, movies, gadgets, accessories, and more in the Office of Sustainability. Open 8am-5pm Monday through Friday in the upstairs of the Lola Tilly.

Thrift, second-hand, used-item stores:

  • Salvation Army, 2222 South Cushman, A clothing selection, some furniture.
  • Value Village, 3027 Airport Way, Next to Sears. This is by far the best store for clothes and household items.
  • Play It Again Sports, 160 Old Steese Highway. Apparel and sports equipment. More selection but higher prices. Also offers full snowboard and ski workshop and figure skate blade sharpening.

Garage and moving sales:

Garage sales are held during the spring and summer by people wanting to sell some of their possessions (they do not want to sell the garage).  They hold garage sales especially when they are leaving the state, and these can be a very good source for home furnishings. Most people will take only cash (no checks or credit cards).

Equipment swaps and recycle and rummage sales:

Numerous organizations hold these sales throughout the year as fundraisers. People bring items to the sales, thus selection is usually much better than at garage or moving sales. The University Women’s Association recycle sales, held both in the fall and spring in the Wood Center, are particularly good for clothing. The ski equipment swap at West Valley High School in the fall is particularly good for Nordic ski equipment. Many of these sales will take only cash (no checks or credit cards).

Reuse areas:

Many dumpster (trash) transfer stations in the borough have a platform where people can leave items to be reused by others.  All items are completely free for the taking. Some items may need repair. The closest reuse are to UAF is on the east side of Farmer’s Loop Road near the Taku Drive intersection. Another one is on the north side of Chena Pump Road at the intersection of Chena Small Tracts Road.

Really Free Market:

The Fairbanks community and UAF offers a Really Free Market twice a year and normally held in the Patty Center parking lot or the Wood Center. Items can be dropped off prior to the event for donation. All items are free and there is no bartering or selling. This event is publicized in advance

Additional resources:

  • Craigslist – be careful. This is the first place that many Americans look when they are searching for used / second-hand items. However, we STRONGLY recommend that you always see the item before purchasing, and never give your personal information like credit card numbers or your Social Security Number to any individual online. Also, make sure you buy from local sellers; it is very easy to be scammed if you buy from non-local sellers. It is expected, unlike in many other places in America, that negotiation is expected, except when a prices says “FIRM” next to it, that means it is non-negotiable.
  • Amazon.com
  • Ebay.com
  • Fairbanks Daily News Miner classified ads (local newspaper)

When ordering items online, be sure to verify shipping costs.  USPS has flat rate shipping to Alaska with no additional charges.  Additionally, Fairbanks is serviced by Federal Express and UPS.  Additional shipping charges may apply.