THERE YOU ARE, SOAKING UP RAYS IN your Florida backyard but secretly yearning, just a bit, for a taste of those wonderful, old-time winters you knew as a kid. What to do, short of booking a quick flight to Fargo? Simply call Jim McPhail and Jeanne Frank, who will airfreight a genuine Utah snowball, packed in dry ice, to any snow lover willing to fork over $19.95 plus shipping.
“Snow is Utah’s best asset,” says McPhail, 29, a product-development-and-marketing entrepreneur. “Why not come up with a way to share it with the rest of the country?”
And while much of the country is hurting these days, business for the Sandy, Utah, partners has never been hotter—or colder. Since November, when they ran their first newspaper ads, Frank, 40, and McPhail have sent more than 200 snowballs off to snow-starved customers in Florida, California. Texas and Hawaii.
“One woman ordered a snowball for her mother who is a schoolteacher,” says Frank. “None of the kids in her class had ever seen snow; they gathered in wonder to taste it and touch it.” Others have sent snowballs to relatives serving at military bases in warm climates as “a small remembrance of home,” says McPhail. There have even been a few frosted souls in northlands like Minnesota and Michigan who simply seem to want a little more of the white stuff. Frank shrugs: “Go figure.”
McPhail came up with the flaky concept while driving home one night last fall. “I saw all this snow and felt sorry for people who live in states that don’t have any,” he says. Frank initially laughed off the idea, “but after I thought about it,” she says, “I realized this thing had potential.”
To keep their product pure, McPhail and Frank, who also runs a desktop-publishing business, dash to their yards after a snowstorm and before their children (she has two, he’s got three) can mitten the white stuff into muck. They enlist their respective spouses (Tom, a CAT-scan technician, and Laurie, a manicurist) to help pack off the snowballs.
Although the snow season will be tapering off soon, the partners figure they can keep their business rolling into April by hiking high into nearby canyons in search of fresh powder. “Someday I hope everybody who comes to Utah can send one of our snow balls to their loved ones instead of a postcard,” says McPhail. He also hopes to expand into bulk deliveries, offering a 55-gallon drum of snow (enough for a fort or a couple of snow men) for $950 plus shipping. “It’s expensive,” he concedes, “but the memory of a snowball fight in Miami would last a lifetime.”