BLUFFDALE, Utah — Business in the downtown area continues to be plagued by crime and issues with the homeless population.
Now one business has closed its doors and decided to move elsewhere because of the issues.
Latterdaybride, who has been downtown at different locations around pioneer park since 2001, closed their store near pioneer park because of several incidents.
“I started noticing that I was developing some anxiety with it. And when we would get a yeller, that would walk by,” said shop owner Nicole Thomas. “We had something happen sometimes weekly. Sometimes we'd get three months, it wasn't a matter of if it would happen again it was when will it happen again.”
She got involved with the Pioneer Park Coalition, as well as being an involved part of the community to share a business perspective, but the issues continued.
“I wanted to be part of the solution,” she said. “I had this idea that I wanted to have the work-life balance and live and work in the neighborhood that I lived in and be a part of revitalizing it.”
In 2019 an employee was assaulted when a family came into the store under the influence of drugs. That employee had a concussion and bruised chest because of the altercation.
One of those who came into the store promised he would “come back” and “burn the place down”, prompting her to hire armed security.
Her employees didn’t feel safe and many left because of their safety.
“That truly changed the course of things and businesses, I had done it for the previous I think like 19 years,” she said.
The incident that prompted her to leave for good occurred in February 2021 when a man, pursued by authorities, ran into the store.
He was wanted for sexual assault and threatened employees and customers. At one point he took off his shirt and appeared ready to attack the general manager.
He was later arrested outside the store.
“I just decided at that moment that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result,” said Nichole. “I woke up that next morning and I started looking at what my options would be to leave the downtown area.”
Since then it's been hard, but rewarding, to be able to create a space from the ground up in Bluffdale Utah.
“I mean, I really agonized about it because those that know me to know that I'm pretty idealistic,” she said. "Honestly, leaving I struggled with feeling like I wasn't being loyal to all the people that I knew were experiencing the same thing that I was.”
“I never saw myself doing a 25 to 35-minute commute to work,” she said. “I can tell you I wake up every day I get in my car and I've never been so happy to drive to the point of the mountain.”