Snow, cold actually help some businesses - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Snow, cold actually help some businesses

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(03/04/14) - Mounds of snow and months of bitterly cold weather have taken their toll on Mid-Michigan roads, vehicles and homes - but the same conditions have also led to opportunity and profit for a number of local businesses.

With Mid-Michigan buried in snow, all that white has translated to green for local businesses selling "weapons" to fight Old Man Winter.

"Anything to do with snow removal equipment, from snow shovels to snow blowers to snow plows, has been excellent. Obviously, snow removal equipment services has been excellent," said J.W. McKittrick, general manager of Atherton Road Sales.

"I would say anything to do with plumbing because everyone had pipes freeze, so heat tapes and snow shovels, every kind of ice melter," said Randy Neil, Gillroy's manager. Neil believes it's the store's best winter in 20 years.

Higher-priced items like generators and heaters have also been popular this winter, helping heat up profits.

"Sales are up, I would say, maybe 35 to 40 percent. It's been really good," Neil said.

While the snow and cold might be leaving a bitter taste for some Mid-Michigan residents, it's also building up quite the appetite for others this winter, helping some eateries make extra "dough."

"Sales have been, they haven't been up a lot, but we've noticed a lot of deliveries. People don't want to go out. Normally, on a weekend, we'll run three drivers, but because it's been so busy, we're running four to five," said Robert Whitman, Jet's Pizza manager.

Even with more drivers, bad weather can slow down the delivery process, a trade-off most customers are willing to make.

"They've been pretty understanding, for the most part, as far as longer delivery times, longer wait times on pizzas, longer waits on pickups. They've been pretty good," Whitman said.

Recreation vehicle sales have also surged due to deep snow across Mid-Michigan, leaving low supplies for some dealers. Where supplies of snow removal equipment were plentiful in years past, this year's brutal winter has caused dwindling inventories as demand increased.

"The snowmobiles have been really good. We've been just about sold out since the middle of January. We only got two left for the season. The ATV's are for the ice fisherman getting out there and plowing your driveways out. And the side-by-sides, we get a lot of them with cabs and the snow plows," said Dale Chapman, manager of Chapman's Sports Center.

This winter will certainly go down in the record books for both cold and snow. The good news is that the calendar will inevitably get us into spring, hopefully one that melts all this snow at a gentle pace.

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