The Big Ray’s story begins in the 1940s as World War II made its way to Alaska, then a United States territory known for its abundant natural resources. The combination of the war and other opportunities brought an influx of service men, construction workers, prospectors and money north. After the war, servicemen Glenn Miller and Howard Cruver realized the potential for a thriving business and started outfitting Alaskans with military surplus cold weather gear including boots, pants and parkas. The two entrepreneurs opened up Big Ray’s in downtown Anchorage, then known as the Army Navy Store, and Fairbanks in 1947. After Howard’s passing in the mid 1950’s, Dick Cruver assumed his late brother’s position in the company. The partners ran the business until 1988 when they sold the business to their sons Mike Miller, Mark Cruver and friend and employee, Monty Rostad.
Under new ownership, Big Ray’s continued to invest in Alaska and grew with the mining, oil, construction and fishing industries. Between the Anchorage and Fairbanks stores, Big Ray’s was able to boast that they sold more Carhartts per capita than any other dealer in the world! Big Ray’s success has been attributed to listening to our customers and outfitting Alaskan workers in quality brands that work. As Alaska grew so did Big Ray’s. Between 2007 and 2010, Big Ray’s opened up a second location in both Anchorage and Fairbanks and purchased Mack’s Sport Shop in Kodiak. In 2015 all of the stores began operating under the Big Ray’s name.
2016 marks the 69th year of operating as a local retailer with the expertise on what gear works in Alaska’s rugged conditions. Big Ray’s has been working for Alaska through statehood, the great Alaskan earthquake of 1964, the discovery of oil on the Kenai Peninsula and in the arctic at Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Big Ray’s has stayed committed to outfitting Alaskans across the state. We are Classic Alaska.