South Pole Store

This winter I have been volunteering to run the store every Thursday for an hour and a half. The store is open four days a week for an hour at a time. The first two photos were taken along the same wall. The rest of the store is full of shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, scarfs, stickers, post cards, etc. During the winter we mostly sell, cigarettes, alcohol, sodas and toiletries people run out of throughout the winter.

All of the alcohol is rationed. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday everyone is allowed either a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine. On Saturdays you are allowed to buy one bottle of hard alcohol only or a bottle of wine and a six pack. Dr. Pepper and Red bull were also both rationed to one can every time the store was open, but that was because we were running low and are now out of both items. We also ran out of root beer and a few wines. Everything else we still have.

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This photo shows the candy and medicine section. The shelf on the left side of me has toiletries.

I really enjoy working in the store because it is the only time we use cash here. It is fun to get a small feeling of the real world. The store does not take cards or checks since we cannot rely on internet and we have no  way of depositing checks. Everyone has the option of taking out money from their paychecks which is given to us in cash. There are usually only ten or fifteen customers so I spent a lot of time organizing and restocking things. This photo shows the candy and medicine section. To the left of me has toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner and other items.

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9 comments

  1. Seems like a lot of alcohol! Guess it warms up the blood! Julio and I are heading back to your part of the country. On the train right now from Chicago to Seattle and then out to Victoria island for a few days. Can’t believe it’s been a year since we were in hood River and you guys were getting ready to start your adventure!

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    • Well that is the max, so there are very few people who actually use the whole amount. I probably drink one night a month. Awe man, that sounds like a great trip! Max is convincing me to get a Dualsport (motorcycle that can go on or off road) so we can take fire roads and travel to Colorado. So many pretty places to go!

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  2. Interesting! I was on one of the Australian bases a few years back and we had no store – you had to bring your own wine/liquor for the season and it was stored under lock and key except for your weekly allotment. Fountain drinks, beer from the island home-brewery (mostly made by the volunteer brewmaster), toiletries/medicines, and monthly chocolate ration were all provided…. you’re right, though, I would have welcomed a place to spend a few bucks just for novelty’s sake!

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    • That is very different. Free toiletries and medicine is very nice. We can get some stuff from medical, so meds are not usually needed from the store and they are all very expired. Most of the beer is Lion Brown, Speights, Pabst Blue ribbon, Corona and other cheap stuff so I am sure some people would definitely prefer if we could bring our own. It would be hard to plan for a whole year of drinking! Thanks for your comment.

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      • Yeah, most people relied on the home brew (I’d hate to see a year where the brewmaster was really bad!) and brought a few cases of wine or liquor for special occasions. I can’t remember what our cargo limits were, but certainly not enough for a year’s supply of beer. Chocolate rations were a bit of fun and novelty, though – each ration contained a mix of different varieties of treats, so it always led to a night of beg/borrow/steal/barter and made for excellent betting terms for darts or poker.

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  3. That is a very comprehensive supply store, and good for morale to be able to go and buy things. I read that the first glimpse of the sun was a few days ago ,and already flights are getting ready to fly down for the summer season.

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    • Yes, we are very excited to being seeing the first bit of blue sky. McMurdo is already seeing the sun, but we still have a month before sunrise. The “wind fly” flights started this week in McMurdo. Our first flight is the 29th of October and if weather permits, I will leave the 31st.

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    • I am not much help since we are not allowed to look at videos on our satellite. Those were the links we were sent for our IT guy to download. They might have taken some of the videos down or made them private since they were shared with us.

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