By Kaitlyn Ward
In April and October, LDS men and teenage boys don white shirts and ties on Saturday night and quietly disappear into church buildings for two hours. But the women don’t quietly knit and await their return. “Ladies night” has become the sister session to the bi-annual event, and smart retail stores are taking advantage of the short window when girls just wanna have fun and the men are nowhere in sight.
An Open (Deseret) Book
Since its founding in 1866, Deseret Book has been open for business on South Temple in Salt Lake City. With its proximity to Temple Square, the LDS retail store has been unofficially hosting “ladies night” during the Priesthood session of LDS General Conference for more than a century.
As the decades flew by, the store began offering refreshments, entertainment, guest speakers and artists to draw women into the store and help them pass the time while their male counterparts were getting instruction.
“Ladies Night is mainly an opportunity for ladies to get together and socialize and shop at a store they love,” says Michelle Moore, Deseret Book publicist.
While Salt Lake City’s Deseret Book attracts the highest number of visitors out of its nationwide locations, all of their 35 stores participate.
International LDS members often travel to Utah during General Conference time, and the stores enjoy welcoming the guests to the store to see all of the latest books, music, art and food — all created with an LDS audience in mind and heart.
But some travelers head out of Utah on the weekend where they have no church obligations. Deseret Book tells of hesitantly hosting a Ladies Night at their new Bellevue, Wash., location. But in the door bounded a Utah woman during Priesthood session who said she knew Deseret Book wouldn’t disappoint on the Saturday night of General Conference.
One major reason women flock to Deseret Book for Ladies Night are for the sales. In fact, one of the only times Deseret Book holds a store-wide sale is during these two hours — with discounts in the neighborhood of 20 percent off.
Another longstanding Ladies Night tradition is the free gift for the first 100 guests at each store. Every year Deseret Book creates a new gift including framed quote, cookbook or print for customers to enjoy. At each location, a line starts forming well before the event opens at 6 p.m.
“But even with the crowds, these amazing women take it in stride and enjoy the experience,” Michelle said. “For some, it’s kind of like Black Friday. Crowds are part of the fun.”
For this fall’s Ladies Night on Oct. 5, the flagship Salt Lake Deseret Book is hosting Ann Romney, who will be discussing her new cookbook published by Deseret Book titled: “The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes and Favorite Traditions.”
Sister MissionaryMall also gets in on the Saturday night action during General Conference time.
Sister MissionaryMall was founded in 2006 and is a companion store to MissionaryMall. Owner Jenni Theobald wanted to meet the demands for modest, comfortable clothing for the increasing number of sister missionaries.
With Jenni’s knack for meeting a need, she also saw a way to help women celebrate and enjoy each other during these bi-annual Saturday night events.
Since its opening, Sister MissionaryMall has held Ladies Night twice a year during General Conference.
Located on University Parkway in Orem, Sister MissionaryMall puts on a party that includes drawings, giveaways and special product promotions. This October, Jenni is giving away different items throughout the night including coupons, handbags, jewelry and shoes.
But perhaps the biggest giveaway of the event is that the new fall line will be unveiled at Ladies Night.
“Our new fall line is really darling,” Jenni said. “It will also include suiting that is appropriate for missionaries but also very cute.”
Another perk of attending Ladies Night is being surrounded by like-minded women who share advice freely when it comes to missionary preparation, packing, fabrics and more.
During the kid-friendly event, all of Sister MissionaryMall employees are available to keep things running smoothly and to help make this night as fun as possible. In fact, their job description is to find something meaningful for each customer during the event.
Jenni says one of her favorite aspects of Ladies Night is having moms attend — and not all of them are there to shop for their missionary daughters.
“For most moms, their first priority is taking care of their kids,” Jenni says. “But Ladies Night is also a good opportunity for Mom to come get a new Sunday outfit or a good pair of shoes.”