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UPDATED: Denali Gift / Canyon Gift Company Denali Alaska - What it's REALLY like

I am posting this as a reference for future job seekers. The good and bad will be discussed here and you may make your own decisions from them. 

This gift shop chain is nothing short of a sweat shop. In less than a month of being employed here ( over 5 of us are return employees) that is the name used to describe work. Any promises made to you before arriving will be thrown out the window and you will be treated as nothing more than a disposable inanimate object.

Here is some background: Kevin Helwig lives in Alaska and started a small gift shop on his property. This shop eventually grew and expanded into Denali. He built up the town from basically nothing. He owns multiple properties and essentially has a monopoly on the town. Once the nice resorts moved in his businesses exploded. Everything is cheap and made in China unlike the majority of other shops who have high quality products. Kevin is now semi-retired and is in a condo in Vegas. He left management up to Stu, Angie, and Nikki until this year when he decided to install not only cameras but also audio surveillance around the 3 gift shops where he watches, listens, and gives orders to Stu to yell at us about. Kevin does not respect the managers and the in turn do not respect us which create a high anxiety and stressful environment. More will be explained in this post.

PROS: the housing, kind of.

-food is expensive up here, but there is no tax, this is both a pro and a con. You are able to choose and cook your own food, which is very nice especially for those with specific diets. 

-There is a main common house with a kitchen and living room combo and a full bathroom. There is a flat screen TV and TONS of movies to watch. 

-There is a computer with internet in the living room for those who leave their computers at home.

-There is a circle of cabins like a small village with electricity and each has their own full size fridge. There are single houses but most sleep 2 people. There are also couples housing with full size beds.

-The bath house: close to the cabins. there are two separate full bathrooms that are brand new for everyone to use.

CONS: here we go.....

-housing: you have to pay for laundry. $2 per wash, $2 per dry...and the dryer doesn't work so don't waste your money. They have now hired a cleaning person who doesn't clean but they have been instructed by Kevin Helwig to throw any dirty dishes outside of the house for us to clean up. We were threatened that if we leave any dirty dishes in the sink continually he will fire the cleaner and we will all be assigned a chore list.....what are we, 10 years old? Food being soiled outside can attract bears....this is a safety issue at this point.

-Our oven has been broken for weeks with promises to fix it but no luck so far.

-Transportation: we have a van to take us to and from work which is great. If you want to go anywhere else you have to walk over a mile to the 49th State Brewery to catch the bus that comes every 1.5 hours into Denali, it will be $1/person/one way. It's not a bad deal but compared to EVERY other living facility available we are basically isolated.

-Work: Welcome to hell. 

1) you will be promised 40 hours per week with the possibility of over time, working four 10 hour shifts with 3 days off. What you actually get: 28 hours per week working 7 hr days with 3 days off. Also, over time is NOT more than 40 hrs a if you work over 8 hours in a day you get over time. 

2) your every move will be watched and every word you say will be heard. if Kevin doesn't like something he calls Stu upstairs and he calls you and yells at you. This includes if you are standing still for more than 2 seconds without doing something. Not exaggerating. They also listen to your conversations and will not hesitate to call and correct you or comment.

3) returning employees  are supposed to get a $1 raise but they don't get it unless they ask for it. This is ridiculous. 

4) Kevin sent me the wrong contract where I got $1 more per hour than other people. No one but you signs the contract so it's not actually real and they are not abiding to anything. Instead of realizing his mistake and accepting it I was given $30 cash and made to sign a new contract for $1 less. Not only do I get 12 hours less than promised but now I get $1 less than I expected.

5) One of the girls caught a manager taking pictures of them without permission to send to Kevin so he will know who each of us is so when he calls and doesn't like what we are doing he knows your name.

6) you constantly have the vibe that "you are replaceable and unimportant to us...we don't even care about you as a human being"

7) Taxes: our paychecks were all different and they did not have us fill out W2 forms. They had to correct it in the system. VERY UNPROFESSIONAL.

8) if you are at work you are not allowed to have conversations with other employees. if you are NOT at work you are not allowed to come into the store and if you do you better buy something and don't even think about talking to your friends/other employees....someone almost got fired recently for this. If you are at work but you are in one shop and your friend is in another DO NOT GO TO EACH OTHERS STORES, have a meeting place out front or elsewhere: you could get fired. 

We all have been looking for new jobs around Denali because it's beautiful here and it's a great area but we are all literally one step away from writing "help me" on receipts for all of the customers.

Even the returning employees said it has changed drastically and the 'fun work place vibe' the company is putting out to the public is NO LONGER what you get here. Things have changed and it doesn't look good for new employees.

If you want to work in Denali look into McKinley Chalet, McKinley Village, or other 'resort' type of establishments....our friends work there and we are all currently applying there. They treat their employees well and it is cheaper living than this job. You also actually get hours and free transportation on the busses. 


So after posting this blog we received a knock at our door. Stu and Kevin Jr. told us that they were over staffed and we are being 'let go'. This may have been believable if they hadn't hired 2 people to take our places. It's obvious they did not like what I had to say on here, which is fine by me. 

You do not get 24 hours to get out. we had maybe an hour....maybe...and they were rushing us saying they couldn't leave us here alone because I'm sure they were afraid we were upset. We lost a lot of things there because of being rushed.

I left a bag with a note and some presents on my friends door who was at work...they went through that bag and took the note, crumpled it up and gave it to her later. wow.

they said they would drive us anywhere so if you want to go to anchorage they will do that. we just got dropped off in town and found another job that day. More to be posted about that.

Also, when you are fired you are no longer allowed on any of the 3 gift shop properties, the Salmon Bake, or 49th State Brewery. This is insane. That's basically the whole town and you do not sign paperwork saying you agree to this and you are not told about this before being hired. Basically nothing happens if you go...they call a trooper and they will probably tell you to leave because it's not serious enough to take the only trooper in the park out of it for 6+ hours for 2 people on property. 

Basically, don't work for this company. They treat everyone badly and are not honest. Very unfortunate. We now work for The Village by Aramark and love it....go for the major resorts, The Village and The McKinley Chalet have the best housing FYI

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