A little over a year ago I (we – Leah’s been to most of them too) started a project we casually called the DISPATCH Tour (Deseret Industries Super Photo Adventure Tour – gotta call it something, right?) A year later, we’re close to being finished. We’ve only got 5 stores left to visit and we’ll have been to every Deseret Industries. If you laid every used Barbie Doll end to end, it would reach from here to…
Someone on Tumblr asked me a question, and I thought I’d post the answer here:
Why are you visiting a chain of Mormon church owned and operated thrift stores?
A few reasons: First and foremost, I’m from Utah, I’ve scored tons of vintage cameras and dozens of flannels there.
Second, there’s always characters there. Deseret Industries (DI) has sort of a cult-following. There’s a crowd of hoarders, collectors and families at the doors every morning itching to get in and find a deal.
And third, the main reason I decided to do the project: I was casually chatting with an acquaintance at work and the subject of Salt Lake City and thrift stores came up. She said “I won’t shop at DI because it’s owned by Mormons.” I thought that sounded bigoted and petty.
Who cares? It’s recycling. It’s cheap. And if you look hard, you find cool stuff. I don’t care who sets it up, Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Atheists, Capitalists, Communists, etc. Just because Mormons run it is a stupid reason to dislike it.
I decided to visit them all. At the time I didn’t know there were 43. I thought there were… I don’t know 12? No way. There’s 2 in Seattle, one in Sacramento, and 4 in L.A. Also Phoenix and Tucson. I’ve been to almost all of them now, and I’ve been saving Salt Lake City stores for last. So yes, I’ve driven to the Seattle ones, the Tucson one, and the San Diego one. I see the same junk at every single one. I could do a very long commentary on possessions and the fleeting nature of ownership, but that’s an answer to a different question.
It’s been an interesting project, one I started a year ago this weekend, and hopefully I’ll finish it in another month or so.
Thanks for asking, it was interesting to actually think about the start of the project again – it helped alleviate a little artist burn-out. Only 5 more to go!
I’ve had a few interesting suggestions about publishing a book of of some of the photos. Someone recently suggested I create a photo book and have the initial release party in the parking lot of a DI – I like that a lot. Any other suggestions? Free used crutches? A swatch of DI flannel with each book? I wish I could package the smell – that’s what really says “Deseret Industries” to me… maybe a line of thrift store cologne?
Thanks for looking.
Also, Leah’s been doing a pretty brisk business in the leather goods lately – if you haven’t checked out her stuff yet, now’s a great time. If you don’t have slim leather wallet, there’s no better time than spring. People in Belgium are even getting on board!