I live in Owatonna, Minnesota, a city of approximately 27,000 residents located in the southeast part of the state.
Overnight we received 15.5 inches of snow from a storm that the National Weather Service named “Achilles.” It’s a new state record for 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day snowfall in the month of May.
Thursday-night update: a town that’s about 15 miles south of us, Blooming Prairie, received 18 inches of snow. (BTW, Blooming Prairie High School has one of the all-time great nicknames: The Awesome Blossoms.)
My wife told me that someone on Facebook dubbed today February 91st, in reference to the horrible spring weather we’ve endured!
Below are a few observations in the wake of the storm.
Businesses That Could Benefit From This Storm
Tree-removal services. I just returned to my office after driving around town, and there are downed trees and branches everywhere, including my yard. Our community has roughly 7,000 single-family homes; if only one-fifth of them sustained tree damage, 1,400 households could use tree-removal service. That’s a LOT of potential business.
Sellers of snowblowers. For 17 years as a homeowner, I’ve held out and not purchased a snowblower. But after this winter — which we’re still experiencing — I’m giving up. It’s time to get a snowblower. I’m probably not the only person who’s reached this conclusion.
Snow-removal services. I don’t know how much money snow-movers make when it snows, but regardless, a May snowstorm is a bonus.
Businesses That Could Be Hurt
Auto dealerships. A friend of mine who owns an auto dealership told me that every time it snows on a weekend, it costs him $6,000 because people don’t want to buy a new car when the weather is bad. Achilles didn’t occur on a weekend, but I imagine it will cause people to put off their car-shopping to a later date.
The local driving range. Early May is prime time for Minnesota driving-ranges, but needless to say, 15.5 inches of snow won’t help.
Businesses That Could Be Hurt and Helped
Nurseries and landscapers could be hurt and helped by Achilles. The storm helps because people will need replacement plants and trees. But it hurts because the first week of May is the traditional time for Owatonnans to plant annuals; my hunch is some people will skip planting annuals altogether this year.
The Marketing Tools
Twitter and Facebook would be ideal for any business that’s affected by this storm. If your business is in a position to help others, use social media to tell the community what you can do. If your business could be hurt by the storm, consider using social media to make special offers and to remind people that you’ll be here when winter ends.