Deseret Industries was born during the post-Depression era when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent two officials to Los Angeles in 1938 to study Goodwill Industries and determine how the church could create similar employment opportunities through a thrift-store business.

Deseret Industries was born later that year under the direction of LDS Church President Heber J. Grant. Today it is one of the largest thrift store chains in the nation, behind Goodwill and Savers stores, with 46 stores in seven Western states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

The stores operate on the principles of thrift, work, giving and self-reliance, and their primary purpose is employment rehabilitation.

According to information from the organization, Deseret Industries is composed of three related parts. First, employees receive training and find long-term employment. Second, the public may purchase inexpensive, quality merchandise in a clean, safe retail environment. To those in need, merchandise is provided at no cost. Third, all people may provide meaningful service through the donation of time and merchandise.

Richard L. McKenna, director of Deseret Industries, said the ultimate goal of Deseret Industries is to provide temporary employment and job skills to people who need them.

"We serve without regard to religion," he said. Currently, D.I. stores probably employ about 50 percent non-LDS workers.

He said selling used clothing and items is what keeps the DIs funded — they have to be self-sustaining.

McKenna said the DI system hasn't expanded with new stores in recent years , because it is oriented toward quality and not just to opening more outlets.

"We have a desire to be the best," he said.

He also said the DIs have no desire to set a price at the maximum amount, but simply a fair price.


E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com