Staying at the Plaza Hotel gave us across-the-street access not only to Temple Square, but also to a new Salt Lake City destination called City Creek Center. Opened in March 2012, the downtown development project combines residences, offices and over 100 retail stores and restaurants.
Built on the site of two former shopping malls, City Creek Center features two 18-foot waterfalls, choreographed fountains, a retractable glass skylight roof, and sculptures of Utah’s symbolic seagulls. A 1,200-foot-long recreation of historic City Creek, the stream that once ran through Salt Lake City, meanders through the center’s walkways.
Deseret Book Company’s flagship store was a welcome City Creek Center discovery. Founded in 1866, Deseret Book supports the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by offering an extensive selection of books and music for sale. You can find LDS-inspired gifts in the store’s Zion’s Mercantile department, as well as treats from the Lion House Pantry’s bakery in its Parley Street Emporium.
In Salt Lake City, there’s an abundance of men in tailored suits and women in stylish skirts. Seeing so many well-dressed people, we knew there had to be a good source for traditional clothing nearby. We found it at Utah Woolen Mills, a fifth-generation family business at City Creek Center.
Utah Woolen Mills has been in business since 1905. Today, it’s owned by the Stringhams, an original Utah pioneer family. The store offers a unique selection of exceptional clothing, attractively displayed in a distinctive environment that includes a billiard table, pillows adorned with pieces of silk ties, and wrought-iron doorway gates that a customer constructed from vintage sewing machines.
Utah Woolen Mills’ talent for salesmanship is remarkable. Upstairs, BJ Stringham showed us how a man’s Schneiders of Austria Loden rain-resistant top coat folds up into its own rectangular carrying case to become packable for travel.
Downstairs, Mary Ann and Laura introduced us Misook’s wrinkle-free knit skirts, as well as 100-percent wool corduroy pants and skirts from Samuelsohn, which Utah Woolen Mills exclusively carries. The store’s selection of Geiger of Austria jackets, coats and skirts, as well as Dale of Norway sweaters, is some of the best we’ve seen.
On the right-side bottom shelf of this display, I spotted a Moser & Göttlicher “Alpentraum” cardigan “mit Puffsleeve” and embroidered apple trees. It jumped off the shelf and into a box, headed for my mother’s closet.
My long, red, hooded Geiger coat has served me well for 17 years. It’s traveled as far as London, Germany, Austria and Brussels, and it was easy to spot on the streets of Downtown Columbus, but it was time for Little Red Riding Hood to retire this signature piece of her winter wardrobe. Now, I have an elegant new Schneiders of Austria winter coat from Utah Woolen Mills. It’s a lovely new addition to my collection of Trachten, the traditional folk costume of Austria and Bavaria. Made of Loden cloth, the lightweight, yet durable felted fabric that first protected Teutonic farmers, hunters and shepherds from wind, rain and snow, my coat has dark green velvet cuffs and matching velvet trim on the collar.
With Laura’s encouragement, I brought home another souvenir from Utah Woolen Mills — a stylish, colorful patterned silk and merino wool cardigan jacket designed by Solveig Hisdal for Oleana. Located in Espeland, outside Bergen, on the west coast of Norway, Oleana knits and sews everything in its own factory. This, too, is a showstopper.
The M&G sweater will be inaugurated at Ohio State University for the Class of 1962’s 50th reunion brunch next Sunday. And the Loden coat and Oleana sweater will soon be able to be spotted Downtown. To find out what any of these distinctive items look like, you’ll have to see us in person.
If you’re not in the market for clothes or LDS Church books, stop by Harmons City Creek, an upscale family-owned grocery store located at 135 East 100 South. Harmons is a great spot for lunch, especially on Sundays when Temple Square restaurants are closed.
It’s also a good source for Real Salt, an unrefined salt from central Utah that contributes its flavor to more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals, which cause its unique pinkish flecked color and its delicate flavor.
Not far from City Creek, there’s another great shopping destination — the store at Salt Lake City’s Main Library. Opened in 2003, the building features a six-story curving, walkable wall along a public plaza and a rooftop garden. A multi-floor reading area provides beautiful views of the city and the Wasatch Mountains. Spiraling fireplaces on four floors offer cozy places to enjoy items from the library’s collections. In the gallery on the fourth floor, we saw “Pop-ups: Books That Spring to Life,” an exhibition of pop-up books from the collection of Ann Montanaro Staples.
On Library Square, you’ll find a collection of stores that offer locally made gifts, original artwork and flower arrangements. At the Library Store, literary-inspired goods are displayed in open drawers of a card catalog. Alongside a display of Jane Austen-themed items, you can take home “Austen Adoration: Works Inspired by Jane Austen and the Austen Universe,” a bibliography of Austen-related books from the library’s collection.
The store carries copies of Opening Zion: A Scrapbook of the National Park’s First Official Tourists, by John and Melissa Clark. The book is about six girls, mostly from the University of Utah, who spent a week in Zion National Park as its first official tourists in May 1920. It is illustrated not only with photographs that the Union Pacific Railroad used to promote travel to the park, but also with Scherenschnitte papercuts created by Melissa Clark.
Emily, one of the store’s associates, introduced me to BabyLit®, a series of board books for toddlers that are based on classic literature. Written by Utah author Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver, and published by Utah’s Gibbs Smith, the counting primers include Little Master Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet, Little Miss Austen: Pride & Prejudice, Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre and Little Master Stoker: Dracula. Little Master Carroll: Alice in Wonderland and Little Master Dickens: A Christmas Carol are colors primers.