“Fridays and Saturdays are always busy,” he said. “But conference Fridays and Saturdays are incredible. The only other time we get crowds like that is during the Christmas season. So it’s like Christmas in April.”
Sergio Flores, manager of the Taste of Red Iguana Mexican food location in the City Creek Center Food Court, agreed.
“It’s like a holiday — like the Friday before Christmas,” he said of the conference crowd. “I don’t even know where they sit — a lot of them probably stand to eat.”
Flores said extra staff and food supplies are critical for conference weekend — not to mention understanding a few peculiarities of the general conference schedule.
“Usually on a Saturday night things are winding down by 8 o’clock and we’re starting to clean things up and get ready to close,” he said. “But we’ve learned that at 8 o’clock on a conference Saturday we’re going to get crushed when the priesthood meeting lets out. This place is going to be filled with guys in white shirts and ties.”
Other stores in the downtown area are similarly impacted by general conference crowds. Nathan Foster, assistant manager of the City Creek Center’s Fanzz Sports Apparel store, said general conference weekend is “definitely a lot crazier than normal days.”
“There’s definitely a spike in sales,” he said, “and there are a few more work hours for everyone. We’re calling in all of our employees — we may need to borrow some help from some of the other Fanzz stores in the valley.”
And that’s a good thing. “Busy is what we like,” he said, even though conference Saturday has its unique challenges.
“Nobody wants to go back into conference carrying a Fanzz bag,” he said. “So we get a lot of people who just come in to check us out. Getting them to buy, that tests us.”
Nate Christensen is new to the Disney Store at City Creek Center, but he’s heard “it’s going to be awesome!”
“We have a huge shipment coming in on Thursday in preparation for the weekend,” Christensen said. “Our corporate offices know all about general conference — they know what’s going to happen here that day.”
What’s going to happen, he said, is an interesting connection between the LDS Church and Disney.
“They are both all about family,” he said, “and since there aren’t a lot of kid-oriented stores here at City Creek, we get a lot of families after conference sessions.”
Which Christensen thinks is sort of a bonus for the City Creek Disney Store.
“The church is inviting all these people downtown this weekend,” he said. “We get to share in that.”
That is especially true at Deseret Book, a store that specializes in LDS-oriented books, art and other merchandise.
“We can always tell when a session is over,” said Deseret Book vice president Jeff Clark, who also manages the City Creek store. “We don’t have to look at a clock. We just look outside — we can see the exodus coming across South Temple.”
Clark said the crowds grow larger every day during the week leading up to general conference. Saturday evening is “Ladies' Night,” with special sales and programs for women while the LDS men are in priesthood meeting.
“Because of our proximity to the Conference Center, it gets pretty crazy in here after the Saturday afternoon session,” he said. “Sisters feel the conference is over for them, and they can come in here and have a good time. It will be packed literally shoulder-to-shoulder in some places in the store. It’s just crazy.”
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