Snowfall and the Local Economy

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

As we saw last week, winter storms can cause problems for drivers, and lead to schools and businesses being closed. But in the service industry, it can mean boom or bust. WHSV examines the impact of snowfall on the local economy.

Teter's Exxon on South Main Street in Harrisonburg always gets a boost when a winter storm hits. There's always a need for towing when the roads get slippery.

"A lot depends on when the storm hits, what time of the day, and what day of the week," says Gary Teter, co-owner of Teter's Interstate Exxon. "If it's through the week pretty much you're heavy traffic times of the day, it picks up a good bit. If it's on the weekends it doesn't tend to affect it near as much."

Teter's also uses their tow-trucks for private plowing, so they can potentially make money off that as well. But that's only half the story.

A bad winter storm means booming business for a snow plow or tow truck company, but bad business for a convenience store. At Teter's Exxon, they see both sides of the equation.

"We really have several businesses rolled into one," explains Teter. "It's a convenience store, service center, and garage, along with a towing facility."

And having such a diverse business is both a blessing and a curse in bad weather.

"It pretty much slows things down in the store because of people not wanting to come out in that kind of weather," says Teter. "The garage part somewhat slows down."

Teter says whatever gains he makes with towing and plowing gets wiped away in lost business in the convenience store and gas pumps.

Teter says the only part of his business that isn't affected by weather are the U-Haul rentals. He says people have a scheduled day to move and they pretty much have to go with it no matter what the weather is.


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