After a week-long build-up toward Michigan’s largest snowstorm so far this winter, weather predictions came true Wednesday with heavy snowfall beginning early in the morning.
Jonathan Newell is a snow plower for Lawn Sprinklers, headquartered in Lansing. Newell, who typically gets called out for snow removal duties of city walkways during any snowfall, had a long day Wednesday. “I’ve been up since 4 a.m. and we’ll be out here until about 1 a.m.,” said Newell. He and his crew worked throughout the day with just an hour for lunch. “Yeah we’ll be out here for a little longer, take lunch, go back out until about 1 A.M., get four hours of sleep and then get up and do it all again tomorrow,” said Newell.
Lawn Sprinklers was working at the Hannah Lofts & Townhomes apartments complex near Hagadorn Road.
“I’ve done about 1,000 walkways already today,” said Newell around noon, a mere eight hours into what would be a 21-hour workday. Newell is used to this kind of stuff, though. He said he remembers a snowstorm two years ago that was much worse than this one. It’s up to people like Newell and companies like Lawn Sprinklers to help make transportation easier and safer during snowfall. However, it doesn’t always result in many people leaving their homes.
Joe Bell, the general manager of The Peanut Barrel, a local restaurant in downtown East Lansing, remembers storms worse than this one. Bell has lived in Michigan his entire life, 70 years. He recalled some heavy storms. “There was a couple of big ones, ’67 was like 24 inches over a couple of days and ’78 was about 18 inches. They were both bigger and worse than this because there was a lot of wind,” said Bell.
Bell, who’s been with The Peanut Barrel since 1980, had a simple answer when asked how he attracts business during heavy snowfall days in the winter, “We don’t,” he said. The Peanut Barrel, which opens at 11 a.m. and closes at midnight on Wednesdays, had received just one customer by 1 p.m. Wednesday, and Bell said he was going to close shop nine hours early at 3 p.m.
Even though this was the first big snowfall to hit East Lansing this winter, Bell wants to avoid as many as possible. “I would just soon it stopped… (it sets us back) quite a bit,” said Bell. Even just one day where he doesn’t receive many customers can be a large financial detriment to the business. “You plan the best you can. Moneywise it’s a big loss, but it’s winter and when you do business in the state of Michigan in the winter you’re gonna have times like this when nobody comes out,” said Bell.
Crunchy’s, anEast Lansing bar and restaurant famous for its karaoke and trivia nights, actually benefited by braving the weather and staying open longer than most other businesses.
“We did pick up for dinner because a bunch of other places closed early,” said Michael Krueger, owner and general manager of Crunchy’s. Krueger, like Bell, has lived in Michigan all his life, 42 years, and has learned some lessons about dealing with snowstorms.
“We will sometimes call off a few staff so they don’t waste their time, but that can lead to issues if other restaurants close and we are the only one open,” said Krueger. That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday. After “maybe a dozen customers for lunch,” Crunchy’s saw an influx of people that ventured through the winter wonderland trying to enjoy dinner and a good atmosphere.
Still, business was not the same as usual for Krueger. “The only real solution is to stay open and others may close. We could do social (media), but we really don’t want people to venture out if they are not comfortable. Def want people to stay safe,” said Krueger.
Winter in Michigan can take a toll on many people, nevertheless, businesses and those that run them keep moving on.