Little America Hotel Salt Lake City, UT
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Salt Lake City, UT Change Location
Established · 1952 ·





When done right, something as simple as a shopping trip can become so much more meaningful. 

It can be someone’s relief from a stressful day or refuge during a stressful year. It can be a place to commiserate and a place where a community is formed. 

At the Shops at Little America, customers can expect service that feels personal. It’s a place where the people make each shopping trip feel like returning to a home away from home. 

This mentality is perfectly demonstrated in the leadership of Kari Lund, a retail department manager who has been at Little America for almost 24 years. Kari is immediately warm. She feels like a friend even when meeting for the first time. 

Kari grew up around the retail business. Her father owned an apparel company, which took her family all over the country. She loved clothes and loved that she got to try a lot of her father’s inventory for free. Still, she didn’t see a future for herself in her father’s business. She, instead, went into the food service industry. 

Twenty-four years ago, Kari was managing a café in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. When she discovered that the cafe was being sold, she saw that as a sign to try something new, at least for a while. 

Several of her family members worked at Little America Hotel downtown, which is how she heard about an opening in the retail department. 

She figured she would try it for a year, tops. 

Now, so many years later, she talks about how easy it was for her to stay longer than expected. From the beginning, she felt warmly welcomed, like being invited into a big family. 



Bringing a Little Holiday Magic to Life

For many families, Little America is the go-to place to celebrate the holidays–whether Salt Lake City locals or traveling here from afar. Partly because the hotel offers so much comfort at any time of year, and partly because of the added magic of the holiday decor. 

 When Kari first joined the team, decorating for the holidays was a volunteer job shared by Little America’s staff. That first Christmas, Diane, her manager and mentor for many years, asked if she wanted to join the decorating. 

What started as lending a helping hand turned into a passion. Now, Kari leads the charge on Little America’s spectacular displays every year. In her words: “I’m a sick person,” she says, “I start planning almost a year in advance.” 

Kari keeps a few crucial things in mind when she puts together the decorations and displays. She never styles to her personal tastes. Part of the fun of decorating the hotel is finding ways to delight a wide variety of guests. She’s always looking for something unique and something that will spark joy for different people. She wants everyone to find something that speaks to them specifically. Whether a life-sized Santa in his sleigh or a small Christmas village complete with toy train, Kari works hard to find something for everyone. 

As a testament to this thoughtful curation of Santas, holiday trees, lights, and more, Little America introduced the Santa Scavenger Hunt, an interactive way for guests to discover the unique displays that Kari helps build each year. Available through the New Year, guests can explore the lobby and first-floor halls to discover as many Santas as possible, with a chance to win a prize drawing. 


24 Years—and Counting

Over the years, Kari has seen a lot of change. She watched the hotel change through updates and renovations. And she watched Little America’s sister property, The Grand America, rise up from the ground and open its own retail shopping experiences. 

Twenty-four years and counting, she’s proud of the connections she’s built and how much she’s learned. She appreciates all her mentors and co-workers, who have become like family. What she thought would be a temporary pit-stop from one job to the next turned out to be her true life passion. 

And she continues to love retail. She enjoys curating the products offered at each outlet and, of course, connecting with shoppers. When asked what product she loves the most currently on the shelves, Kari says confidently, “I love that we sell 154 children’s books in the Newsstand. They’re always a big seller. And I love that people still teach their children that holding a book is nice.” 

Whether helping parents pick the perfect book for their child or deciding which color of ornaments to display next year, it’s the little things that Kari does that make the biggest impact. And it’s an impact like hers that preserves Little America’s legacy as the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.