Shoveling out from a 10-inch snowstorm is no big deal in midwinter — for people with a snow-removal contract.
But many of those seasonal contracts ended March 31 and, with the first major April snowstorm in several years hitting this weekend, people in the Twin Cities and much of the state scrambled to find a one-off replacement.
Lilly Davis of Minneapolis, who paid $700 for a contract from November to March, spent time Friday searching for one of the snow-removal apps that offers service to Twin Cities customers.
"I reached out to the contractor to see what he would charge, but he never got back to me," Davis said. "Besides, he never showed up for the 2 inches of snow we got March 30."
For metro residents standing firm, refusing to fire up the snowblower or pick up the shovel, there are options. There's always the neighborhood kids, but if they are protesting too, try an app.
Smartphone users in the Twin Cities metro can download one of two free apps for snow removal: Plowz & Mowz (plowzandmowz.com or 1-800-489-8128) or Eden App (edenapp.com or 651-447-7177).
Customers who use the app also get notifications that the job is in progress or completed along with photos showing the job is finished.
Prices range from $40 to $45 for a driveway. Steps and sidewalks can also be requested for an additional $20 to $30. Both services take jobs within a 50-mile radius of Minneapolis and St. Paul. New customers can save 10 percent by using the code 10POFF at Plowz and Mowz and WELCOME10 at Eden App.
"Don't worry, there's no surge pricing," Ben Zlotnick, chief executive of Eden App, said Friday morning.
Harry Skrypec of Skrypec Lawn Care and Snow Removal in Plymouth said that by mid-April in the past few years, he was toiling on lawns, not driveways. "Normally, I'd be blowing leaves out of flower beds, raking them up and taking them away this time of year," he said.
By Friday, he had the snow blades back on his truck and was waiting for jobs from Eden App and his customers whose contracts expired a couple weeks ago.
Many people who hire snow-removal contractors over the winter gamble that they won't be needed in April. It's usually a safe bet. The last time that Twin Cities residents had shovel-able amounts in April was four years ago.
Eden App and Plowz and Mowz said they picked up many new customers after the storm on April 2. "Once it gets to be April, people are saying 'I don't want to deal with it anymore,' " said Wills Mahoney, co-owner of Plowz and Mowz.
Mahoney said that customers who have downloaded the app can stake their place in line by requesting a time frame such as Saturday evening or Sunday morning instead of waiting until the snow stops. "The sooner you order, the sooner you get picked up in the route," he said.