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Great Salt Lake Whaling Company

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Could there have been whales in the Great Salt Lake? Well, according to an 1890 newspaper article, a wealthy Englishman by the name of James Wickham undertook the task of developing the whaling industry in the Great Salt Lake. James supposedly captured two Australian whales from the wild and released them at the mouth of Bear River within a wire fence. The whales, however, soon broke free, and were later reported seen swimming happily about in the Great Salt Lake with their young.

Even though the truthfulness of the story is more than questionable, Steven Birkeland drew inspiration from it for the name of his nautical store -- the Great Salt Lake Whaling Company. Located in the ZCMI Center Mall, Steven's store serves as an oasis for any in love with or curious about the sea and sailing. As you enter the store the sounds of crashing waves and circling seagulls greet you. Steven's large collection of merchandise includes anything from brass bells and ship's wheels to hats and t-shirts. I paid particular attention to the hand-painted chests and wooden model ships in bottles. The store also includes items you'd be hard pressed to find along either coastline, such as port and starboard lanterns.

Steven told me his idea for the store evolved from a combination of passions. Before starting the Great Salt Lake Whaling Company, Steven and his wife, Kristen, owned a crafts store. Then, after making a trip to Seattle, Washington and falling in love with lighthouses, the idea for a nautical gift store started taking shape. Steven wanted to tie in a local feel to the store, so he incorporated his boyhood fascination with the Great Salt Lake and named the store after the "whale of a tale" 1890 newspaper article. Finally, after a year of pondering, the store set sail this last November.

We may be hundreds of miles from the nearest coastline, but thanks to Steven each of us can bring home a bit of the sea, and for a moment, pretend that there is a pod of Australian whales swimming happily about in the Great Salt Lake.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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