It started as a joke. Kyle Waring, an advertising product manager at GSN Games, figured it might be funny to send people a plastic bottle full of authentic Boston snow, spreading some misery from the worst winter in decades.
It turned out to be an actual business — for as long as the snow stuck around, anyway.
Waring, 27, started the website ShipSnowYo in early February as the region was buried by flakes. Demand led him to eventually offer 10- and 20-pound sizes, packed tight in plastic-wrapped styrofoam boxes that were shipped overnight to buyers across the country.
“I thought I was going to maybe sell like 10 of the water bottles, if that. And then it just went crazy,” he said. “I had to figure out how to scale it and make it legit.”
Waring shipped more than 700 pounds of Boston snow to customers around the country, pocketing a couple thousand dollars and learning some interesting business lessons.
The little gag lasted well into April, with Waring earning about $10,000 in gross sales. The shipping and packaging costs meant this wasn’t exactly a get-rich scheme, though.
“My profit margin wasn’t great — it was around 20 to 25 percent,” Waring said this week.
He hoped to “lengthen the season” in May by tapping into the snow supply in Colorado, but that didn’t pan out. “I didn’t have the time to develop relationships with local shipping companies, so I just relied on my friends. And they were just not reliable,” he said with a chuckle.
Waring remains interested in e-commerce business experiments. While he’s a bit cagey on the details, Waring says he’s hoping to launch a new company in the fall sending plants of some kind, “which is going to be a much higher profit margin, obviously.”
As for the final disappearance of Boston’s famous snow farm, which finally melted away this week, Waring had mixed emotions.
“I’m not really glad its gone. I’m a little bit sad to see it go,” he said. “But being that it made it to July, I’m very impressed with how much snow we’ve been able to deal with.”