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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Kai Ryssdal: I got an e-mail from a friend of mine on the East Coast today. He said the snow has done such damage to government services that he and his neighbors had to chip in to pay some guy to come plow their street. That got us thinking about the snow economy and how people get by when they can't get around. Amity Jeans is the assistant manager at Frager's Hardware store in Washington. Amity, it's good to talk to you.

AMITY JEANS: Good to talk to you.

Ryssdal: So how is business on this crazy day?

JEANS: It has been steady. We are absolutely amazed at the number of brave souls who have trekked through this blizzard to get here, just to get a shovel, just to get firewood.

Ryssdal: I imagine windshield scrapers are gone, snow-melting ice is gone, all that stuff.

JEANS: All the ice melt is gone. We have another tractor trailer coming in tomorrow. We just cannot keep up with the demand. We get a tractor trailer in and in an hour it's gone.

Ryssdal: You hope that tractor trailer comes, right? I mean, there's still four feet of snow on the roads.

JEANS: Well, we're hoping. It has to come from upper northeastern Pennsylvania -- Allentown. It's a long schlep. And we sent one of our crew, Apollo, to Carlisle, Pa., to one of our manufactures to pick up a load of snow shovels and what was normally a two-and-half hour, one-way trip, or five hours roundtrip, took 14 hours. But again, we just can't keep up with demand.

Ryssdal: Yeah, but who's providing all that demand? I mean, the pictures I see, Capitol Hill is just deserted.

JEANS: Capitol Hill is very much a community. There are a lot of families that live here. We're even getting people in from Virginia and Maryland who have driven all over the place out in their areas, and can't find anything, so they've come here.

Ryssdal: I read the weather report says you guys are due for another storm on President's Day. Are you ready for that?

JEANS: I think at this point we can take anything that is thrown at us.

Ryssdal: You've been there what 10-15 years, plus or minus?

JEANS: I've been here 13 years.

Ryssdal: Is this the worst you've ever seen?

JEANS: This is the worst that I've seen in my tenure at the hardware store. It's amazing. It's quite a bit of snow. We're not used to it all at once like this.

Ryssdal: Let me ask you this. How is your staff getting in? I imagine it's no small effort for them?

JEANS: Well, most of us live close by. We also I think for the most part consider this play. We come to work, and we're very lucky we don't have to sit behind desks.

Ryssdal: Who's that laughing in the background?

JEANS: That's my staff. They're eating pizza right now, and they are happy. We come to work, and we play.

Ryssdal: Now, wait a minute, did you guys get pizza delivered today?

JEANS: We did. And I cannot give out the name of the place. I would love to. But they said that they would not be doing deliveries today, but since we buy so much pizza from them, they would do it for us.

Ryssdal: All right, you guys closing early at all, or no?

JEANS: No, we're our regular hours, 7-7.

Ryssdal: Terrific. Amity Jeans, the assistant manager at Frager's Hardware on Capitol Hill in Washington. Amity, thanks a lot.

JEANS: Thank you very much.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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