Major snow events, like the blizzard-y beast that clobbered a sizable swath of the East Coast this past weekend, are known for inspiring acts of altruism and entrepreneurism, often combined. After all, they present one of those rare opportunities in which you can pitch in and help (dig) a neighbor out — and potentially make a few bucks in the process.
In New York City, where snowfall totals were nearly shattered with 26.8 inches of white stuff accumulating in Central Park, kids took breaks from sledding to push hot chocolate on beleaguered passersby and a small army of shovel-wielding civilians, under temporary employ of the Department of Sanitation, took to city streets and sidewalks to clear away the remains of #Snowzilla. Today, more than 48 hours after the meme-heavy storm finally released its icy grip from the Big Apple, 1,726 registered snow laborers are still working around the clock (for $13.50 an hour).
It’s also in New York City — and in Brooklyn, surprise, surprise — where one enterprising young gent named Patrick Horton constructed a place of refuge from the storm. He then listed the shelter, “handcrafted, and built using only natural elements” on online lodging platform Airbnb for $200 per night. Note that said shelter — a “chic-dome style bungalow for you and bae” — was an honest to goodness igloo. (A quinzee if you want to get technical).
It reportedly took Horton and his roommates six hours to construct the “alt-lifestyle” igloo, located in the back garden of his Greenpoint apartment building. It took the same amount of time for Airbnb to yank the “Boutique Winter Igloo for 2” listing from its website for failing to meet the company’s occupancy standards.
Apparently during the fleeting time that the listing was live on Airbnb, Horton, a 28-year-old art director, received a modest handful of serious inquiries from Airbnb users about his listing, which he had outfitted with blankets, lights and waterproof pillows. He even placed a potted plant near the entrance. Nice touch.
“We thought maybe someone would want to rent it for a really original Tinder date,” Horton explained to the Huffington Post. “How many girls can say they were taken on a date in an urban igloo?” Speaking to Esquire, Horton adds that he would have thrown in an "iPod full of Usher slow-jams and maybe a bottle of Rose" as part of the deal.
What a time to be alive.
Just as the ephemeral structure was built, presumably, with tongue very firmly planted in cheek (or maybe not … “Me and my roommates actually had this idea a few months ago,” Horton told Outside. “Once we got it in our heads, we were pretty dedicated to the idea”) the Airbnb police (aka Duston C. from the Airbnb Trust and Safety Team) had a good sense of humor when putting the kibosh on the snow day chicanery. Heck, they even offered Horton a $50 coupon for future.
Reads the notice sent to Horton:
I am contacting you today regarding your new listing, the “Boutique Winter Igloo for 2.” We are happy to see that you guys are staying busy and having fun during Blizpocalypse. Unfortunately, your igloo, while very well constructed, has failed to meet our occupancy standards and has been removed from search results. As an appreciator of fine igloos around the world, I did want to offer you a coupon that you can use to book your first reservation as a guest. Please be sure to pick a place with running water, electricity, and a roof that doesn’t melt!
The shutdown notice didn’t deter Horton from giving up altogether as he also apparently considered advertising the slumber party-ready igloo on Craigslist as a plan B. No word on how that turned out. “We could definitely use the cash,” he told Outside.
I would like to thank all the blanket-forts that gave me practice for this igloo as a child. Much appreciated. Today has been a wild ride.— Patrick M. Horton (@patrickmhorton) January 25, 2016
And on the topic of cash: While Horton’s hospitality scheme didn’t pan out as planned, others reaped economic benefits from the city-paralyzing blizzard including grocery stores and hardware stores, where white bread and rock salt flew off the shelves. Online retailers, pay dating/hook-up sites and video-on-demand services also likely saw significant bumps, thanks in part to housebound shoppers/nookie-seekers/movie-watchers.
However, the overall economic impact of the storm was devastating — restaurants and theaters, as is wont, were hit particularly hard — with estimated losses upwards of $850 million.
It’s also worth mentioning that outside of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, igloos can indeed be rented on Airbnb including listings in Norway, Colorado, Austria and this new $100-a-night listing in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Via [Esquire], [Outside], [HuffingtonPost]