A little further west on South Temple at Utah Woolen Mills, things are a little less crazy but still extremely busy during general conference, according to Bart Stringham, the third generation owner of the 108-year-old downtown mainstay.
“We have a lot more people come in during conference, and probably a 10-15 percent increase in sales,” he said. “We look forward to conference.”
For Eldon Cannon, group manager for grounds services on the church's multi-block campus in downtown Salt Lake City, the impactful busy-ness of general conference is already over.
“We’ve pulled the frost blankets and cleaned up the flower beds," Cannon said. "We put an early spring fertilizer on the lawns to wake them up and help them green quicker. We’ve battled a little pink snow mold here and there. And we’ve pulled a lot of weeds.”
Cannon said each year crews finish taking down hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights around the church offices and Temple Square about mid-February. That’s when the pre-conference clean up and perk up begins, as crews — including hundreds of volunteers — carefully execute the plans of landscape designers who paint living landscapes from a palette of 450 different types, sizes and colors of flowers.
“We would be doing all of this for spring anyway,” he said. “But with general conference in early April, that pushes us to get things looking nice as quickly as we can.”
Which is not to say that “looking nice” is the ultimate objective, as far as Cannon is concerned.
“The real purpose behind it all is we believe that the message we have to share at general conference is a very important message,” he said. “But if our grounds look slovenly and sloppy and unkempt, who’s going to pay attention?
“We need to be good stewards of the earth,” he continued. “We try to set an example of what it means to beautify the earth and take good care of it. It’s part of our message, part of the process of living a good life.”
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