The first thing you notice about Haines is that it isn’t Skagway, the tourist showpiece situated 33 nautical miles to the north. Instead, this is a quiet, independent, unprepossessing town of native artists, outdoor-adventure lovers and 100% Alaskans hooked on the tranquil life. People come here to see bald eagles in the wild, dissect one thousand years of Chilkat-Tlingit culture, ponder the remains of an old military barracks and enjoy the best drinking scene in an American town of this size.
After logging fell on hard times in the 1970s, Haines swung its economy toward tourism; not so much cruise ships (Haines receives a mere 40,000 cruisers per season), but more independent travelers. Haines is particularly popular with RVers in summer and heli-skiers in winter. As a result, the businesses here are uniquely Hainesian, and most likely the person behind the counter is the one who owns the store.