How to Sell Snow for $89 a Box: Meet the Man Behind “Ship Snow, Yo”
They’ve plowed it into empty lots called “snow farms.” They’ve tried to melt it. They’ve even started dumping it in the ocean as a last resort. After seeing more than 100 inches of snow this winter, Massachusetts officials and residents are simply overwhelmed with snow.
But only one man has started selling snow and shipping it away.
As the snowfall totals rose this winter, Kyle Waring thought quickly and started a business. Through his website, Ship Snow, Yo, you can order genuine snow shipped from historic Boston to your door, allowing folks in sunny Florida and other U.S. locales that don’t usually see snow to share in the ultimate winter experience.
How Did This Become a Business?
Think it’s crazy? Waring’s first order arrived six hours after the site launched, and at least 150 orders have been placed through the site. What started as a joke between Waring and his wife while shoveling their driveway (again) turned into a fun side business.
Waring and his team -- social media photos often feature the family dog -- collect crisp white flakes from around their home. He first offered a 16.9 ounce bottle of snow, shipped for $19.99. But the bottle service was hard to guarantee against melting during transit.
Then came the more insulated styrofoam-packaged 6-pound box for $89, and the newest product released just last week: a 14-pound “blizzard in a box” for $169. Snow orders arrive in thick styrofoam containers via FedEx, UPS or USPS, depending on the destination.
And yes, when the boxes arrive after overnight shipping, they’re still full of snow. “It takes well over 72 hours for 6 lbs of snow to melt at 80° F. Therefore, all shipments that arrive under 24hrs from departure are guaranteed to arrive as snow,” explains the site’s FAQ.
Waring said that a lot of research went into picking the packaging for the snow. “I take into consideration the inside and outside dimensions which need to be thick enough to insulate the snow, but still spacious enough to transport a good amount of snow that will [still] be snow on arrival,” Waring said in an email this weekend. “The best way to combat melting is to ship more of it and plan for melting as a part of the transit process.”
The only startup costs for this joke-turned-moneymaker? The shipping supplies -- and maybe a good relationship with the driver who picks up packages each night. Even the NBC Nightly News got a chuckle over Ship Snow, Yo, featuring it on its broadcast over the weekend.
Will a Snow-Based Business Last?
Even though spring is just a few weeks away, it’s safe to say Boston’s snowbanks aren’t melting anytime soon.
“Need a large shipment? We can help! We welcome custom orders,” one recent Ship Snow, Yo tweet advertised. The text was accompanied by a photo of a front-loader posed in front of a heap of snow that appeared to be taller than the average person.
There doesn’t seem to be too much competition for Ship Snow, Yo. Minneapolis-based business Snow in Seconds sells artificial snow-making kits starting at $12.99 for two gallons of realistic snow. When the company’s trademarked synthetic polymer comes into contact with water, it expands and takes on similar properties to real snow. That mixture can be used repeatedly. SnoWonder also sells a similar mixture with its own patent; but SnoWonder also sells machines starting at $300 to make falling snow at parties or events.
What Will Happen When the Snow Finally Melts?
Inevitably, even this storm-filled winter will come to an end. Up next for Waring: ShipFoliage.com, which promises to share New England’s fall colors by mail. Winters like this one may come once a century, but we can trust that autumn arrives around the same time each year.
Waring even gave me a peek into what shipped foliage might look like. “I’m planning on collecting various colored leaves for the foliage packages, and shipping 10, 25 and 50 leaves at a time,” he wrote.
A Ship Snow, Yo visitor actually shared her method of leaf mailing to Waring: She preserves the leaves by melting a bit of wax paper around each one. “She’s sent shipments to those in the military abroad, which have really brought light into homesick soldiers’ lives,” Waring explained. “I thought that was incredible and I’ll certainly be donating shipments to those in the service when the business is officially launched in the fall.”
As for a summer project, Waring is undecided. “I’ve thought about potentially shipping seashells,” he wrote, “but I’m still looking into the logistics and legalities.” He’s considering taking the summer off to spend time with family and friends, but even when he’s relaxing, Waring will probably be thinking of his next gig.
Your Turn: Would you order snow in a box? Or does this crazy business inspire your own potential startup?