Salt Lake-area businesses are reporting shortages of a precious wartime commodity.

Yellow ribbon.In the valley and all around the country, neighborhoods and business districts are festooned with yellow ribbons. Everywhere, yellow ribbons and bows decorate street lamps, car aerials, front doors, bushes, trees, bicycles, mailbox posts - anything and everything.

The demand is incredible, say ribbon retailers and manufacturers. Shops are finding it hard to keep acetate indoor-outdoor yellow ribbon in stock, and manufacturers are pumping up their production. One Salt Lake store even decided to limit per-customer sales so that everyone has a chance to get some of the dwindling supplies.

"Our sales have been absolutely incredible," said Claire Morris of The Lace Place in Salt Lake, where sales of ready-made bows and 3-inch wide ribbon are breaking records. People who have ordered large quantities of yellow ribbon at The Lace Place have been gently urged to leave enough to sell to other customers, she said.

The store's suppliers are having trouble keeping up with their orders, she said. "All of our wide ribbon is gone. We're hoping some more will come in the next day or two."

Piece Goods Craft & Fabric, with several stores on the Wasatch Front, is running out of the ribbon in some of their locations, though a warehouse worker said most of their stores still had a little ribbon.

At the Zim's alongside I-15, sales of yellow ribbon "have been absolutely terrific. We ran out," a clerk said.

And at Utah Craft & Floral Supply, a clerk said sales "have just gone crazy." The wholesale warehouse is completely out of yellow ribbon, said manager Jim Gledhill.Most ribbon manufacturers are on the East Coast, and they are striving mightily to meet the increased demand, said Murray Matlof, manager of the ribbon division at Scher Fabrics Inc., in New York City.

Matlof said the nationwide run on yellow ribbon has prompted them to expand their ribbon line to include all-weather outdoor ribbon and to add production shifts nights and weekends.

"Our plant is working night and day and weekends churning out yellow ribbon," he said during a telephone interview. "We're completely inundated with orders from people who have patriotic feelings."

In addition to their regular customers, large corporations have started ordering yellow ribbon from his plant. In the course of the phone interview, he said six or seven more yellow ribbon orders landed on his desk.

All this yellow ribbon scuttlebutt reached the ears of the folks at Sugarhouse Awning weeks ago. Though the company doesn't deal in ribbon, it does have bolts of heavy-duty yellow nylon that is being cut into 21/2-inch wide strips, and as long as it lasts the company will give ribbons away to anyone who wants them, said plant manager and vice president Walt Peterson.

And, for people willing to shell out a little more cash for real satin ribbon, many area fabric stores report more than adequate supplies.