Summarized by Eric Bunker
ZCMI Patrons: Some Things Cash Can't Measure
Salt Lake Tribune 2Sep99 L4
By Holly Mullen: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- With ZCMI on the auction block, current Salt Lake area
patrons are left bewildered and wondering what will happen to their beloved
department store. First it was the beloved Hotel Utah and now this. Who
will buy it, and what changes will they make to the amenities that they have
come to love and expect.
This move has not been a surprise as the popular department store, (which
the Church has a controlling interest in) has been loosing big money as of
late, but the reality is just setting in. Many Downtown residents have
included daily and weekly visits to its unique restaurants, shops and
boutiques as a part of their social backdrop.
ZCMI, Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution, was started by Brigham
Young and the Church in the latter third of the 19th Century as a place for
the Utah saints to shop with the excess profits being returned to the
membership shoppers/investors. With the coming of the railroad into Utah,
President Young felt concerned that the potential was high for incoming
non-member owned retail establishments to persecute the saints through
predatory pricing policies.
Other than the official announcement of the impending sale, Church officials
are being quite about any details. Downtown patrons know that the Church
will do what it needs to do, but they sure hope the new owners will keep
most or all of these traditional but unique offerings.
No one is suggesting that a sale to an outsider would kill off all those
things. Surely a smart retailer would recognize the value of a name and all
the nostalgia that goes with it, or will they?