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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
Did you know that Utah is home to one of the largest collections of military surplus and it’s all available to the public? It’s true. If I mention the name Smith & Edwards, I’ll bet many of you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
The store, which sits on the west side of I-15 just north of Ogden, has become a shopping legend. Since 1947 the “country boys’ store” has attracted people from all over Utah as well as many neighboring states. And it’s no wonder. The store’s collection of goods includes everything from outdoor equipment to housewares, and the 60 acres of military surplus turns any visit into a shopping adventure.
I was curious to know how the “Smith & Edwards” tradition got its start so I paid the store a visit and met Jim Smith, the store’s owner and president. Jim told me it all began when his father Bert and friend Lawrence Edwards saw an opportunity to utilize discarded military equipment while serving as Marines during WWII. When the men returned home to Ogden, they formed Smith & Edwards and began buying and selling the surplus equipment out of Bert’s backyard. As Jim explained, the two entrepreneurs started with just a humble assortment of goods. But hard work and Bert’s talent for discovering practical uses for the equipment soon generated a following.
Business increased during the ‘50s, and the owners moved the store to its current location along I-15. Bert quickly filled the site by buying more surplus, including the purchase of more than 13,000 Navy mooring buoys. Bert saw potential with the buoys. Each one could hold 442 gallons of liquid. But Lawrence disagreed and doubted the buoys would make much profit. The purchase caused the two to part ways amicably in 1962.
Soon, Bert’s son Jim joined in managing the company. Jim took a more logical approach while Bert continued following his intuition. Through the years, Smith and Edwards has continued to grow and now employs more than 100 people. It’s become a unique shopping destination—one known throughout the Intermountain West--and it all started from a vision shared by two friends to utilize something others saw as useless.
For Zions Bank, I’m Fred Ball. I’m speaking on business.