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Increase in LDS missionaries a boon for local businesses

By Nkoyo Iyamba  |  Posted Jan 8th, 2013 @ 6:14pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — The increased numbers of 18- and 19-year-old men and women heading out to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means business is good for some local companies working hard to serve them.

Austin Taylor delivers care packages for missionaries. He's a parent's dream because he drives a van from Logan to the Provo Missionary Training Center to deliver missionary care packages — the same day the parents send them.

"From pillows to blankets to goodies, anything the parents can make," he said. "Hopefully no Cafe Rio, because it doesn't usually make it there very good."

"We do about 48 stops, and we're picking up hundreds of packages a day," he said, which is a typical holiday workload. After the holidays, the workload typically drops to abut 80 packages a day, but Taylor said he now has double the workload.

"We're kind of nervous because of what we keep hearing of how many are going in," he said. "I might have to have a big box truck soon."

Taylor's is among several businesses who cater to LDS missionaries and have seen a boost in sales since LDS Church Pres. Thomas S. Monson announced in October a historic change in age requirements for missionaries.

Sales at Mr. Mac stores around Utah are up to, around 10 to 20 percent. The sales are coming mainly from 18-year-old prospective male missionaries, according to Stuart Christensen, co-owner of the City Creek Mr. Mac.

A drastic increase:

In the first few weeks after the announcement that age requirements would change, applications were up more than 470 percent, from about 700 a week to about 4,000 a week. In all, the number of missionary applications has doubled since October.

Source: LDS Church

"During the holiday in particular, there were a lot of 18- and 19-year-old women looking at the idea," he said.

Stores aren't the only ones busy because of the influx of missionaries. Health professionals are also seeing an increase in patients. Dentist Brody Hart has doubled his patient load for missionaries needing a final check-up before they head out.

"I'd say I fill out paperwork for missionaries twice a month, and since October I've done it six times just for younger missionaries," he said. "That doesn't count the ones that are older."

Not only are these businesses hopping, but the Provo Missionary Training Center is busier as well. Language missionaries will leave the training center two weeks earlier, and English-speaking missionaries will spend two instead of three weeks there. And for now, the center will house 4,800 missionaries, up from 3,000.


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