Now that the bulk of the Y2K scare has passed, Safe Haven Food Reserves has had some phone calls from people who say they won't accept their UPS shipments of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.
But it looks like the majority of the company's customers will keep whatever they bought before 2000 — and there were thousands of last-minute orders in December.
Craig Briggs, the owner and president of the Draper-based firm, said that the company made it clear that it has a firm "no return" policy and that customers needed to think ahead about what they wanted to buy.
"There are some with the mentality that, 'If the world doesn't end precisely on Jan. 1, I've wasted my money and I'm going to ask for it back.' But that is rare," Briggs said.
"They still have food, and they bought it at a very good value so they can incorporate it into their regular food storage program," Briggs said. "We are not Y2K profiteers in that respect."
Nearly 99 percent of Safe Haven's business is out-of-state due to its marketing efforts. "We do some walk-in business here at our showroom, but we have very little Utah business," Briggs said. "I would think the rank-and-file Utah resident, because of the culture and background, would definitely incorporate (what they bought) into their current food storage program."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphasizes self-reliance and encourages its members to keep a year's supply of food on hand in case hard times of any nature should arrive. Church officials counsel members not to go into debt for food storage or other preparedness efforts.
Briggs also notes that some customers, including a wealthy Tennessee man who bought $1 million in food items for his family, have announced their intentions to give these to the Red Cross or other relief organizations if it turns out that they don't need so much stored food after all.
Briggs said that that the television show "The 700 Club," which is operated by televangelist Pat Robertson, did a feature on Safe Haven's food products.
"Y2K was not mentioned as a selling point, although the timing was such that it could be interpreted that way. His (the Rev. Robertson's) recommendation to people was, 'If you don't need it by midyear this year, donate it. That in itself is a humanitarian effort.' We've tried to use that philosophy," Briggs said.
People also can get a tax deduction if they give food to a nonprofit organization.
Scott Sperry, the primary shareholder in Preparedness Resources, said he also has not seen any big demand to return emergency foods. His company also has a "no return" policy for foods that is stated on invoices, is included in letters to customers and is noted in company literature.
But he thinks the attitude of most of the firm's customers, who are mainly out-of-state residents, is what matters the most. "The important thing to most of our customers is preparedness, and preparedness is not an event, it's an attitude or a way of life. Y2K may have provided the catalyst for doing it now rather than a year from now, but it makes sense to have a little bit of extra food on hand, just like insurance," he said.
"The good thing is something bad does not have to happen to collect on what you have. You just open the cans and eat the product. With insurance, something bad has to happen," he said.
Y2K wasn't a big deal for most customers, he said. "We charted the freight shipped at the last minute. With those packages that we saw weren't going to arrive in time, we would call the customer and let them know in case Y2K was a serious issue. Nine out of 10 customers said, 'I don't care if it gets here in a week or two because I'm not getting this for Y2K. I'm getting this because I believe in preparedness,' " Sperry said.
Prior to New Year's Eve, Sears guarded itself against potential "I'll-change-my-mind-later" hoarders by imposing a 20 percent restocking fee for anyone who bought a generator last month and then tries to return it this month.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many people simply didn't go out of their way to buy much for potential Y2K disasters.
Michael Read, spokesman for Albertson's Food & Drug Centers, said before Dec. 31 that shoppers didn't seem to be stocking up for disaster, although some were getting extra supplies of such things as baby food and formula.
Most Albertson's shoppers were buying the types of groceries and supplies that people ordinarily buy during the winter months, along with traditional holiday treats such as chip dip, party trays and the like, Read said.