Conference brings business to area merchants

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    By GEOFFREY M. HOWARD

    Businesses surrounding Temple Square compare General Conference weekend to their Christmas season rush.

    “Conference is huge. It’s like Christmas Day except there’s only one day to get tired, not two weeks,” said Rose Powell, assistant manager of Deseret Books in the ZCMI Center Mall located one half block southeast of Temple Square.

    Thirty-six authors and artists signed books and performed Saturday including Lloyd D. Newell, Michael McLean, John Bytheway and Dick Nourse.

    Powell always looks forward to Conference weekend and prepares for it by stocking up on books to be signed.

    “Conference weekend is my favorite. Conference people are excited to be here because they come from far away,” Powell said.

    Susan V. Bosak came all the way from Toronto to do signings and promote her book, “Something to Remember Me By.” The book is geared toward daughters, mothers and grandmothers. Bosak said the book was launched in the Salt Lake City market. Salt Lake is her top-selling market.

    “I’ve done signings across the country and in no place have we gotten a warmer welcome,” Bosak said.

    ZCMI employees note an increase in sales of women’s clothing and men’s suits.

    The women’s section of the store during the priesthood session looks like sales during the Christmas season, said Jill Wilkinson, manager of Wedding Registry.

    Many men’s suits are bought and then shipped to respective homes, Wilkinson said.

    The ZCMI Center Mall is closed on Sunday.

    Parking lots also see an increase in business.

    There are 300 more cars per shift on Conference weekend, said Brian Wood, parking attendant at a lot on South Temple next to the ZCMI Center.

    “A lot of people claim to know general authorities to get in free,” Wood said.

    Borders bookstore is located directly south of Temple Square.

    “There is a huge volume in a small amount of time,” said Brian Arfmann, assistant manager at Borders.

    The bookstore highlights LDS authors on conference weekend. This Borders location is not the only one that sells LDS literature. The store in Mesa also has a high volume of LDS books, Arfmann said.

    The horse buggies at Temple Square do not have as much success on Conference weekend.

    There is actually a decrease in business, said Taco Poulsen of Imperial Carriage.

    “Mormons have big families, spend a lot of money to get here and are on a tight budget,” Poulsen said. “But they’re awfully nice.”

    Rides are $35 for a half hour ride.

    “There’s more traffic and it’s more congested,” said Layne Morgan of Carriage for Hire.

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