Fri., February 4, 2011 2:58am (EST)

There's No Business Like Snow Business This Winter
By Tovia Smith
Updated: 3 years ago

This year's heavy snow is bad news for many businesses, such as retailers and airlines. But other firms are profiting from the storms. Among the most obvious ski resorts with fresh powder, hardware stores who still have shovels and salt, and anyone with a snow plow .

"I've had one day off in three weeks," says Pat Perry, 65, from the driver's seat of his front loader. He's made nearly a year's income in one month, clearing shopping center parking lots.

"I'm gonna pay my bills," Perry says, "especially the oil bills!"

"One man's meat is another man poison, that's all I can say," says fellow plow operator Joseph Biotti in the same Newton, Mass., parking lot.

Also raking it in nearby were some guys who raked snow from rooftops. For the service, they charge as much as $500 an hour.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook," says Bob Bruno, from John Henry Roofing in Boston. "We can't even get to all the stuff that's calling."

"In 42 years of roofing, I never seen this much weight on roofs, and that's the truth. It's insane," Bruno says.

The harsh winter storms have meant overtime for first responders, and for tow-truck drivers like Brendon O'Shea, who are suddenly flush.

"I'm going to the Super Bowl," O'Shea says. "Yeah, but I'm so busy I can't really stop to talk to you."

Other businesses capitalizing on all the spin-outs and accidents caused by ice and snow are auto-body shops.

At JN Phillips Auto Glass, Dan Curran has a line out the door. A customer tells him that she thinks a chunk of ice might have hit her car.

"A snow blower could have hit you right there also," Curran says.

Many of the cars he's looking at today were clobbered by snow and ice.

"This winter is beautiful," Curran says. "I know people don't like the snow, but in our business, the more snow, the merrier."

And speaking of merriment, every time forecasters predict a flurry that might close schools, liquor store owner Scott Brown says he sees a flurry of parents at his shop, the Urban Grape.

"There seems to be a little extra courage necessary in some of those households," Brown says. "And they do stop here to get a new supply of that."

And in this case, their courage is Brown's cash. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.