The Spruce Mill Mall is the primary focal point for downtown shopping. Cruise ships dock directly in front, disgorging their passengers to feed the hungry cash registers of such places as Caribbean Gems or Tanzanite International. Needless to say, locals would never step foot in these jewelry stores owned and staffed by “outsiders” cashing in on the tourists.
Fortunately, many of the other downtown shops—including a number of places in Salmon Landing Marketplace—are locally owned and worth a visit.
Locals do much of their shopping at Plaza Mall (www.ketchikanplaza.com ), centering around a Safeway and a McDonald’s, and the Wal-Mart (907/247-2156) five miles north of town. There are free summertime shuttles from downtown to Wal-Mart; they’re mainly for cruise ship workers, but are also popular with cheapskate travelers.
A surprisingly creative town, Ketchikan  is home to a number of fine artists. The first Friday of each month brings gallery openings, events, and music. The center of Ketchikan’s art action is the historic 5-Star Building on Creek Street , where artist Ray Troll holds down the fort at Soho Coho (5 Creek St., 907/225-5954 or 800/888-4070, www.trollart.com ), with his weird and fishy T-shirts and prints. Other artists—including the wonderfully prolific printmaker Evon Zerbetz—also display works here.
The same building houses Alaska Eagle Arts (907/225-8365 or 800/308-2787, www.marvinoliver.com ), which has colorful T-shirts, jewelry, and prints along with samples of the stunning Native Alaskan designs by world-famous sculptor and printmaker Marvin Oliver.
Other downtown galleries worth a visit include Exploration Gallery (633 Mission St., 907/225-4278, www.explorationgallery.com ), Blue Heron Gallery (123 Stedman St., 907/225-1982, www.blueheronalaska.com ), Eagle Spirit Gallery (310 Mission St., 907/225-6626 or 866/867-0976, www.eaglespiritalaska.com ), Scanlon Gallery (318 Mission St., 907/247-4730 or 888/228-4730, www.scanlongallery.com ), and Crazy Wolf Studio (607 Mission St., 907/225-9653 or 888/331-9653, www.crazywolfstudio.com ).
The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council (716 Totem Way, 907/225-2211, www.ketchikanarts.org ) produces the Ketchikan Arts Guide with brief bios of local artists plus descriptions of galleries, museums, and other places to find creative works. In the winter, their Monthly Grind brings fun events the third Saturday of each month at the Saxman Tribal House.