SIOUX CITY — While most commerce in Siouxland was put on ice due to Monday's blizzard, it was business as usual for Bomgaars.
“People expect Bomgaars to be open,” said Chuck Littsen, an assistant manager at the Sioux City-based retailer’s 5901 Gordon Drive store.
Bomgaars, a farm and home store than keeps more than 60,000 items in stock, kept busy selling winter-weather items and supplies such as snow blowers, shovels and ice melt.
While business was slower than on a typical day, Littsen sad he was still surprised to see as many people as he did.
“It’s not your average day, that’s for sure,” he said.
Littsen lives in Hubbard, Nebraska, and stayed in town overnight with relatives to make sure he could get to work Monday. He also noted most of the local staffers were able to come in but they told out-of-town employees not to even make the attempt.
“There’s no use trying to risk it,” Littsen said. “As the day goes on, it’s just going to get worse so we told them to just say home.”
Up to a foot or more of snow was forecast Monday. Combined with high winds, the storm led to whiteout conditions and treacherous driving.
The blizzard resulted in cancelled flights and two different shutdowns for Sioux Gateway Airport. Initially, the airport closed at 9:30 p.m. Sunday with plans to reopen Monday at 11:45 a.m.; however, on Monday the opening was pushed back to 9 a.m. Tuesday.
One of the largest barometers for how bad things were was that Southern Hills Mall announced on Facebook it wouldn’t open Monday. As the region’s largest indoor retailer, lots of other local retailers typically follow its lead when it comes to inclement weather situations.
In addition to retail, most of the region’s largest employers, including Well Enterprises in Le Mars; Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City; Interbake Foods in North Sioux City; and Tyson Fresh Meats in Dakota City, Nebraska, and Storm Lake, Iowa, either closed or shut down production for the day.
At full speed, Seaboard Triumph can process about 10,000 hogs a day. Officials at the $301 million plant, which went online in September, released the following statement about Monday’s closure:
"Our number one priority is keeping our employees safe, so it was important for us to close the plant for today's production due to the severe winter storm conditions. We are communicating with customers to make adjustments and some management staff are working remotely to meet our immediate business needs."