Houghton Lake businesses celebrating best winter start in years - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Houghton Lake businesses celebrating best winter start in years

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HOUGHTON LAKE (WJRT) -

(12/31/13) - There's no business like "snow business". At least that's what they're saying in Houghton Lake after a positive start to the winter season.

Every business we spoke to says this is financially the best start to the winter season they've had in several years.

And as far as snowfall goes, some say it was back in the mid-90's that they remember this much snow being on the ground by year's end.

On average, Houghton Lake has 25 inches of snow by now, which is exactly what has fallen up to this point.

Last year at this time there was bare ground in some places, and Houghton Lake was far from frozen like it is right now.

The sound of snowmobiles whizzing by is music to everyone's ears in Houghton Lake - especially at Spicer's Boat City.

"Last year we had green grass here during the Christmas to New Year's and it was very, very slow. And this year, you know, everybody's been riding since Dec. 1," said Don Wigard with Spicer's Boat City.

More snow outside. means more sales and service inside. "You know, sleds don't break down sitting in the garage," Wigard said.

Once out-of-towners are here, they have to have somewhere to stay.

"We weren't full this past weekend, but we did well with the room rentals and the sleds were all rented this weekend," said Ann Grafton, co-owner of Ann's Water-N-Woods Motel and Don's Rent-N-Ride.

In the four years the Grafton family has owned its motel and sled rental service, this is the best start to the season ever. "I'm hoping it says we're going to have a nice winter. It'll be nice for us," Grafton said.

The chamber's executive director says the early ice, followed by heavy snow, is exactly what this town needed.

"We don't have a lot of you know, other base industry, tourism is our industry here. So, you know, we're really dependent on that," said Linda Tuck, executive director at the Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Last year at this time there weren't any shanties on the lake, and restaurants like Garrett's Place were worried leading to Tip Up Town.

"Past 4 or 5 years it's been dismal to say the least," Tom Garrett said.

This year, Garrett's restaurant is already busy, ahead of schedule, and he's crossing his fingers for more customers, more cold and more snow.

"Loving it because we're a seasonal, seasonal community and we count on people coming up here to spend their money, snowmobile, ice fish, cross country ski, all of the above. You know, so it's definitely, those are pennies from heaven," he said.

Tip Up Town is the last two weekends in January.

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