COLUMBIA — It started about eight years ago, according to Randy Johnson.
People had called, off and on in the past, and wondered if they could get some Shakespeare’s Pizza delivered long distance. They were MU alumni, no doubt — folks who had moved on with their lives, but not their taste for pizza.
Sometimes Shakespeare’s even responded, on a case-by-case basis.
And then, eight years ago — nobody remembers exactly — it became official.
Shakespeare’s pizzas could be mailed to you.
Johnson, now general manger of the frozen department of the iconic Columbia pizza shop, hands over a piece of paper with some pride. It lists the cities they’ve shipped frozen pizzas to since the shop came up with the shipping plan eight years ago.
Take three 12-inch pizzas, pack them with some dry ice in their own Styrofoam cooler. Mail.
The cost? $39.95, plus shipping and handling. That means, if you live in a place like California or New York, those three pizzas could cost $70.
Even worse, according to Kurt Mirtsching, marketing director and part owner of Shakespeare’s, is if you live in Seattle, Wash. or Key West, Fla. — both pizza destinations.
“It can cost $70 or $80 just for the shipping,” Mirtsching said.
“Some people do it and they don’t even think about it,” is Johnson’s take.
Coon Rapids, Minn.
It’s not a big part of the business. The frozen department accounts for maybe six to 10 percent of earnings, according to bookkeeper Lori Group. And that includes stocking local grocery stores.
But the mail-order business does get about 15 online orders a month, said Johnson. Last week, when the Missouri football team played Kansas on ABC television, commentators said far-away Mizzou fans would order their treats for their watch parties.
Three orders to football fans went out this week in advance of the Big 12 championship game.
Johnson doesn’t ask questions. He just checks the Web site each morning and ships the pizzas.
There are some limits. Pizzas shipped across state lines can’t contain meat products besides pepperoni, even with the dry ice protection.
The orders keep coming.
White River Junction, Vt.
“They’ll have friends over from that town,” Mirtsching said. “And they’ll have a Mizzou party.”
And he knows that his mail-order customers are buying more than pizza.
“It’s the experience and the memories,” he said. “It’s extremely flattering, that’s all I can say.”