Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The Polygamy Blog
Nate Carlisle
Reporter Nate Carlisle and photographer Trent Nelson cover polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow the Polygamy Blog on Twitter at @tribunepolygamy. Follow Nate Carlisle on Twitter at @natecarlisle. Follow Trent Nelson on Twitter at @trenthead.

» E-mail Nate Carlisle

» Subscribe (RSS)

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The town grocery store remains closed, Thursday November 29, 2012 in Colorado City.
Will selling land in a polygamous town create more business?

Will the sale of a city block in a polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border spur economic development, or kill it?

Friday’s hearing on the United Effort Plan Trust mostly dealt with Guy Timpson and whether he would be kicked out of the house he currently occupies. But a curious secondary question — and one that remains unanswered — is if the sale in Colorado City, Ariz., would drive more business away than it creates.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The idea is to sell the city block to Al Yarrish, who plans to open a hardware business in a long-vacant grocery store building. Yarrish told me after Friday’s hearing that opening the store is a gamble because he doesn’t know how the community will receive it; the town is mostly populated by members of the FLDS Church who tend to interact exclusively with members of their own faith.

Yarrish lives just down the road, but isn’t FLDS and runs the risk of being rejected by the community. Still, he told me, he thinks the store will work out.

Bruce Wisan — who was appointed by a judge to manage the land in the area — agrees. In court documents, Wisan and his team argue that Yarrish’s investment will bring in new commerce and be a positive addition to the community.

Which makes sense; since I’ve been covering this beat I’ve only seen a handful of other shops in Short Creek. The addition of a single store would therefore be a major injection of economic activity.

But not everyone thinks that’s exactly what will happen.

Timpson argued Friday that when Yarrish buys the property the handful of other stores on the same block will leave. Those shops include a take-out pizza restaurant and a health food store, among other things.

Incidentally, last year I bought a giant bottle of fantastic Mexican Vanilla at one of these stores for only $8. Judging from the appearance of the employees, the stores are clearly run by members of a polygamous community. However, no one — Timpson, Yarrish or anyone else — seems to know for certain if the owners are actually FLDS.

In any case, Timpson said that having these stores close their doors would be a net loss to the community, even if a hardware store opens up.

For Yarrish’s part, he went door to door asking the businesses to stick around and offering to work with them as their new landlord. Unfortunately, his efforts were rebuffed and they all plan to leave when he buys the land.

So it seems pretty clear what is going to happen; the only question is if that will result in a net economic gain or loss for the community.

One other relevant thing stood out from Friday’s hearing: Judge Denise Lindberg is apparently unaware of these other businesses’ existence. When Timpson mentioned them, Lindberg countered that they weren’t actually operational. Her impression seemed to be that the buildings were entirely vacant. Timpson then replied that, no, actually, they aren’t.

Based on everything I’ve seen and heard, Timpson is correct; there are several operational businesses in the block that’s slated for sale.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.