Cold weather, hot business

Old Man Winter stirs up sales.
Melissa Topey
Feb 10, 2014
For some, this has been a winter wonderland. Jeff Hirt, 35, of Port Clinton, has been a snowmobile enthusiast for 25 years.
 
“We are having more fun this year than we have had in a while,” Hirt said. “It’s just a lot of fun” He has been riding his Arctic Cat snowmobile all over the area, although his favorite trail takes him over the ice to the islands. “Go have dinner at Trippers, have a beer and hear the island stories,” Hirt said. “We have a great time together”
 
He estimates he has traveled to the islands about 12 times this winter, as well driving up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula once. In the past few years, the trails of the Upper Peninsula — normally heavy with the white stuff — haven’t seen much snow.
 
This year, they were back to their old glory, Hirt said. “I will probably have 3,000 miles this year on the snowmobile” he said. “That’s a real good year” It’s a good year for the retailers who sell snowmobiles, too. Mark Walther, owner of American Powersports, has locations in Findlay and Sandusky.

“People are excited this winter” Walther said. “If you’re going to live in Northwest Ohio, you should find a way to enjoy winter”

All indications are snowmobilers have found that outlet.

Business has increased this year about 30 percent, Walther said.

The popular Arctic Cat snowmobiles have sold out, so American Powersports is looking to Pennsylvania and Michigan to find items for customers. American Powersports still has other snowmobiles in stock.

When retailers place their orders for snowmobiles in March, they have to guess what the upcoming winter will bring.

“Who knows how many we could have sold” Walther said.

Usually, when the previous year’s winter had good snow, the following winter people are thinking about snowmobiles. Next year should be a great year at American Powersports.

Walther said much of his store’s clothing and accessories are selling out regularly, and their service department is busy assisting the owners of older snowmobiles.

“They may not have ridden in five years” Walther said. “They’re bringing it in asking, ‘Can you get it running?’”

The answer is usually, “Yes”

For retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, meanwhile, winter snowstorms pile cash in their registers.

Managers at those stores have said this winter has been crazy, with customers stopping in for winter items. Snowblowers, shovels and salt are flying off the shelves.

Hirt, whose family owns Bill’s Implement Sales, also benefits financially from the snow. They sell snowblowers and blades that are installed on lawn tractors, allowing them to plow snow.

“Our sales have been great this year” Hirt said. “We’re down to one snowblower left. I’m loving this winter”