- Associated Press - Friday, June 16, 2017

DEADHORSE, Alaska (AP) - The manager of an Alaska “general store” is retiring after 42 years.

Dave Pritchard, the manager of Brooks Range Supply in Deadhorse, is set to clock out for the last time later this month.

He first hit the clock in the Alaska town in 1975, longer than oil has flowed through the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Pritchard started out working for a tug and barge company. After that, he took a job with the supply company that eventually bought the general store.

The store, which has everything from pipe fittings, industrial hoses, candy, paint, copy paper, cases of water, energy drinks and books by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is the only store in a town that serves more than 15,000 workers at the nearby Prudhoe Bay oil field each month.

“We sell everything.” Pritchard said. “I always call us ‘the mall.’”

The Prudhoe Bay General Store, which is what people commonly refer to it as instead of its official name, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, Alaska Public Media reported (https://bit.ly/2s8K9EG ).

None of the Deadhorse oil field workers live there full time. Pritchard works “two and twos” - two weeks on and two weeks off, a pretty common schedule for the workers. When he’s off, Pritchard flys to his house in Cincinnati or a condo in Florida.

Pritchard said the two weeks away from home can be tough for families. Pritchard’s never been married and doesn’t have kids. And he’s seen a lot over the last 42 years.

Brooks Range Supply isn’t an oil company, but like every other business in Deadhorse, it is suffering through the latest oil price slump. Pritchard said they’ve had to cut jobs and limit the number of hours employees can work.

Pritchard said he’s not sure what the future holds for the Prudhoe Bay General Store once he is gone.

“Well, the future won’t have me here,” he said. “I’m kind of looking forward to that. But it all depends on the price of oil.”

Pritchard’s last day at the store is June 27. After his final flight lifts off from Prudhoe Bay, he is looking forward to golfing and spending more time with his father.

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