Businesses dependent on winter are smiling once again
SPICER -- Business has been good this year for companies that are dependent on winter weather.
Particularly for snowmobile dealers, the steady arrival of fresh snow during most of the winter has been a godsend after years of sparse snow and a struggling economy.
"Normally we don't have rideable snow until around Christmas," said Nathan Nielsen, co-owner of Spicer Sports & Marine. "This year we were riding by the end of November."
"Kandiyohi County and indeed the whole state has really developed a nice trail system," Nielsen said. "I hope people will respect the trail system and the landowners."
Snowmobile sales started early and stayed strong into January, Nielsen said. Clothing and accessory sales went well, too.
Nielsen said snow amounts seem to cycle over the years, and some decades have less snowfall than others. From 2003 to 2008, the area had little snow, he said, but it started to pick up again in 2009.
Nielsen took photos of bare ground and bare snowmobile trails in the fourth week of February three years ago.
In 2009, "we started to get good snow again," he said.
"We haven't seen conditions like this in many, many years," said Steve Myhre of Steve's Equipment Co. in Montevideo. Along with the good snow, farm prices had an impact, Myhre said.
"We had excellent crop prices and a good yield," he said. "Our business is pretty much dependent on the ag industry and farmers."
Scott Selander, a salesman at Motor Sports of Willmar, said he thought it was the best snow he'd seen in 10 years.
"One thing, when you get early snow, it gets people in the mood right away," he said.
Myhre said his business has been busy selling snowblowers, too, and putting tracks on ATVs, because the snow was too deep for their tires. Nielsen said he thought the ATV sales might have been a little slower this year because of the deep snow. The businesses have had busy parts departments and repair shops this winter. In some cases, they were asked to check over machines that had not been used in several years. Nielsen said the activity brought on by a healthy snow cover also helps hardware stores, restaurants, snow plow drivers and other businesses that benefit from additional people in town.
"It's good for the community," Myhre said.
Minnesotans seem to be ready for a change of seasons, though. Nielsen said he's started to get questions about docks, lifts, boats and pontoons. Over the next few weeks, his business will switch its showroom to summer recreational equipment.
Selander said that changeover is already under way at Motor Sports of Willmar. "People are starting to look at motorcycles," he said. Myhre said he's started uncrating lawn mowers.