Weather Forecast


Delivering the goods... Cold, snowy winter keeps some on the run

The Becker County Transit System is being kept very busy these days, as cold, wind and snow have residents within the Detroit Lakes city limits choosing to hop the bus, rather than walk or drive. Officials with the transit company say ridership is up and drivers are doing their best to keep up with demand. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

When the temperatures outside dip well below the freezing mark, it’s not uncommon for many small, local businesses to also have a profit that dips below zero for the day.

But when residents hunker down and wait for the weather to pass, some area businesses are able to buck the trend and cash in.

Oftentimes, it’s all in their delivery.

‘We’ll come to you’

When the snow was flying Sunday, icing up everything in its path and causing zero visibility on some roads, things began to really heat up at Dominos Pizza in Detroit Lakes.

“They shut down the highways, so there were a bunch of people stuck in town, and all the other businesses around town were closing,” said the restaurant’s general manager, Michael Perry, who says that’s when things started to really “get interesting.”

“We had 51 orders that day — that’s 60 percent higher than a normal Sunday, and 72 percent of those orders were delivery,” said Perry, who says they always try to staff heavier when they know the weather is either going to get extremely cold, snowy or icy.

He says because they do deliver outside of the city limits, they tend to receive a lot of calls from people in rural areas.

“People don’t want to drive or go anywhere,” said Perry, who says vehicle issues also make for a busier days at Dominos.

“Because they know even if their car won’t start, they can still definitely call for pizza,” he said, laughing.

Delivery cars sporting the name “Jimmy John’s” can also be seen just about everywhere around town these days, too.

Owner Jake Peters says although they don’t necessarily do more in sales on the rough weather days, they have the ability to “shift gears”.

“I’ll send some of the in-shop people home and call in extra drivers,” said Peters, who says delivery and drive thru pick up the business that has no intention of coming to them.

“A major thing that comes into play, though, is if there is school or not,” said Peters, adding that if people aren’t out and about, it stays pretty quiet for them as well.

But for Jimmy John’s, when roads are bad, business is good.

“People don’t want to move around, so that’s when they’re really calling us,” he said, laughing that on those days their “freaky fast” motto needs to be altered to “relatively quick.”

“Because really, we do have to always consider the safety of our drivers out on the roads, too,” said Peters.

On bad weather days, there’s a good chance those Jimmy John’s drivers may cross paths with one of those little cars with the ball cap on top.

Napa parts drivers are extra busy on those days as well, quickly delivering their vehicle parts to area repair shops that are themselves busy dealing with weather-related car problems. It’s a trickledown effect that Detroit Lakes Napa Service Manager Ken Beauchamp says keeps business really moving for them.

“The drivers have been starting around 7:45 a.m. and going steady until 5 p.m.,” he said, adding that as tow trucks pull in one vehicle after another, their delivery people are kept on the go.

“Whatever those vehicles are diagnosed with, we then turn around and get them the part so they can get those vehicles in and out of the shop,” said Beauchamp, who says their busy stretch started way back in December and really hasn’t let up.

“Business has been very good this winter,” he said.

As the Napa drivers maneuver their way around the wintery roads, they will likely see the folks at the Becker County Transit as well.

Transit Supervisor Rusty Haskins says the cold weather has increased some of their rides considerably, as vehicles break down or people simply decide they don’t want to deal with their own vehicles in the cold.

“I’ve also noticed that we’ve been providing an awful lot of short trips to people who have us pick them up and bring them only a couple of blocks because they don’t want to walk in the elements,” he said, “and that’s fine – that’s what we’re here for.”

However, Haskin adds that because of the high demand for their services, customers need to understand that drivers don’t usually have the ability to wait for them while they run errands because there is usually somebody else who needs to be picked up or dropped off.

He also reminds people to bundle up for the weather instead of automatically expecting a warm ride every time.

“Because this cold weather is really hard on our equipment, and while nothing has happened yet, I’d hate to think if we had a (mechanical) failure or something and then we’d have people in the elements longer than they’d think while we got it figured out,” said Haskin, “and these wind chills are very concerning.”

Haskin says they’ve gotten so busy this cold, snowy winter that the calls can sometimes get to be more than their limited resources can handle.

“We can’t just call out more vehicles and more drivers,” he said, “So people just have to realize that wait times can be affected and they just may need to have a little bit more patience.”

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Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466