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For week ended January 09, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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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 effort."

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 hand."

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."

See also:

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


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