Almost every aspect of life is being affected by the Persian Gulf war, and local businesses are no different.
But the kinds of businesses affected may be a bit of a surprise. The hottest item in town right now is plastic models of the aircraft being used in the Persian Gulf.Those who want a close-up view of the aircraft being used by the nation's military are flocking to toy stores and department stores to buy a model. A model is handy for teachers and parents explaining the war to children, and it helps some feel more a part of the war.
"Some like models because they like to fantasize a little. It makes them feel involved with the war but from a safe distance," said Jeff Pusey, sales clerk at the Hobby Stop in Orem.
Pusey said sales of plastic model airplanes have doubled in the past week. He said most customers are requesting the models of aircraft being used in the Persian Gulf. Sales of F-15's, F-16's and Apache helicopters have increased dramatically. Some customers have even requested the B-52 bomber.
"From the day the war started it has been pretty good as far as plastic model airplanes go," Pusey said. "And when the ground war starts I think we'll start selling a lot of tanks and other things."
Jack Douglas, owner of Douglas Models in Salt Lake City and supplier for most stores throughout Utah, said that every time a war breaks out, demand immediately increases for models of equipment used to fight the war. But this time has been a little different. He said sales of model aircraft increased about six months ago when troops and equipment were first deployed to the Persian Gulf.
"Whenever there's an event like this that receives so much publicity, interest in models increases," Douglas said. "People see the planes identified on TV and come in and want them."
Douglas carries models of just about every piece of equipment being used by the military today. He has models of the F-18, F-14, E-6, F-15 Eagle, F-16, F-111 and the F-117 Stealth bomber. He also carries models of the aircraft carriers being used in the Persian Gulf. In all, Douglas carries more than 2,000 model kits.
"The trend now is toward anything being used in the desert," he said, "particularly in the planes coming out of Hill Field."
Other businesses have also experienced changes in sales since the war began. Wednesday, the day the bombing began in Iraq, most clothing stores, restaurants and video rental stores reported an unusually slow day. But by the weekend business increased dramatically. Most restaurants and video stores were packed with customers.
"I guess people just got tired of watching the same thing on TV every night," said Lisa Stead, assistant manager of Rich's Video in Provo. "Most people said they wanted to get away from it for a while."
Unlike some parts of the country and state, sales of war items have not increased locally. Don Thorn, manager of Bob's Army and Navy in Orem, said he has not sold any gas masks.
"We have not had much interest in that kind of thing around here," Thorn said.
He said sales of some survival items and emergency kits have increased slightly. But most people are buying the cheaper items, rather than the more expensive and better merchandise.
"I think that kind of points to where we might be going. People have a little fear toward where Utah's economy is heading, especially since the war broke out," Thorn said.