Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Church Member's Preparedness Business Faces Life After Y2
MSNBC (Wall Street Journal) 3Jan00 B2
By Jennifer Ordonez: The Wall Street Journal
ZION, UTAH -- LDS Church member Scott Sperry's business, Preparedness
Resources, Inc., made a killing on Y2K publicity, its sales increasing
by 1,200% last year. But now, with the Y2K problem being called a bust,
Sperry is facing a possible disaster as customers may feel duped and
sales shrink from hype levels.
Sperry himself prepared for the worst, spending more than $100,000
buying a refuge in Zion, Utah for his family and stocking it with
provisions. Now that everyone else feels safe from Y2K problems, Sperry
doesn't feel so safe about returning to work, "I'm thinking, 'What do I
do come Monday? How is this going to affect my family and my income?' "
And he is surprised that nothing happened, "Iím really surprised there
werenít any terrorist things," he says.
So this week Sperry is returning to work to face calls from those
customers that may feel bamboozled, or, even worse, no calls at all. "It
could be just like we opened the door to the business for the first
time," he says. That might be disasterous. Like his competitors, Sperry
ramped up to face demand, increasing his staff to 200 and spending $6
million on advertising.
Now he expects to reduce his sales team to 30 and move to smaller
quarters. Advertising will shrink to just $100,000 a year. "Thereís a
chance we will become very small for a while," he says. But he does
expect to stay in business, in spite of the fact that many of the 80 or
more companies in the business have already folded.
And Sperry will not apologize to customers, he says, because they are
still prepared. The need for his products still exists. So, he started
making that pitch on Monday. "When it comes to buying, people are
motivated by two things: fear and greed. We wonít go out and say, ëDo
you realize there could be an apocalypse in the next 12 months?í But a
lot of people, especially religions, say that the new millennium doesnít
start in the year 2000. It starts Jan. 1, 2001."
According to the Deseret News, Sperry, and other providers of
preparedness products, may be in luck. Safe Haven Food Reserves, another
Utah-based preparedness company, says that while it has had a few
customers say they wouldn't accept shipments of its products, most seem
to be keeping the product. "There are some with the mentality that, 'If
the world doesn't end precisely on Jan. 1, I've wasted my money and I'm
going to ask for it back.' But that is rare," says Safe Haven's owner
and president, Craig Biggs. His firm made it clear to customers that it
has a "no-return" policy. "They still have food, and they bought it at a
very good value so they can incorporate it into their regular food
storage program. We are not Y2K profiteers in that respect."
Biggs has also passed on the suggestion of some of his customers that
the food be donated to charity. He says that the Rev. Pat Robertson, who
runs the television show, "The 700 Club," suggested, "If you don't need
it by midyear this year, donate it. That in itself is a humanitarian
And regardless of the rest of the world, LDS Church members will
probably continue buying preparedness products, based on Church
teachings that members should hold a year's supply. The Syracuse Herald
American quotes LDS Bishop Kent Stuetz of the Liverpool ward in New York
saying, "No one knows the time the Lord will come again, but in terms of
the spirit, I've felt personally a great sense of urgency. I got a very
clear message that now is the time to prepare." He adds that the stores
can also be useful for other reasons, "It's really a practical thing. In
case someone is laid off, you always have stores to fall back on."
And church member Dennis Olson of North Hudson, Wisconsin, told the
Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he doesn't feel silly for preparing for
Y2K. Olson, 41, spent $25,000, including $13,000 on a emergency
generator, preparing for the worst. His family expressed cautious relief
that the date has passed, "I was happy. I was very happy," said Olson.
"But I didn't turn off the generator until . . . 12:30 in the morning."
His wife, D'Anne, agreed, "I just wanted it to be done. I'm a lifelong
Mormon," she said. "Food storage is always part of the program. We're
taught from a young age you should always have a year of food storage on
But the couple's 13-year-old son, Brian, was skeptical of his parent's
preparations, "I'm not dealing with any of this," he said. "It's not my
business. I just keep out of it."
Utahns aren't rushing to return food storage
Deseret News 4Jan00 N6
By Linda Thomson: Deseret News business writer
Mormons Preache Preparedness
Syracuse NY Herald American pgB3 2Jan00 N6
By Melanie Gleaves-Hirsch: Staff writer
Church Members Urged to Stockpile Year's Supply of Food
North Hudson man doesn't regret stockpiling for Y2K calamities
Minneapolis MN Star-Tribune 3Jan00 D2
By Mike Kaszuba: Star Tribune