Winter is usually the season for buying a new shovel or getting the snowblower tuned up, area business owners and employees say. But when there's a heavy snowfall, demand kicks into high gear.
Quite a few recent purchases at Midwest Supply in Tracy were deep-snow specific, said customer service representative Tori Sanow.
"There's been a lot of shovels, a lot of ice melt, and snow rakes for up on the roof," Sanow said.
Small engine shops, hardware small supply stores were among area businesses that saw an increase in snow-related business in the last couple of weeks.
"It's going really good," said Bill Ziegenhagen, owner of Marshall Small Engine. "We've been busy."
Sanow said customer interest in shovels and ice melt had definitely spiked at Midwest Supply.
"Oh, yeah. Big time," Sanow said. "Usually right before and right after it snows we sell a lot. We've sold a couple of snowblowers, and a couple of, it's like an electric shovel," she said - a kind of handheld snowblower.
Employees at the Runnings store in Canby said shovels and snow rakes were in high demand there, too. Farming customers were also coming in for replacement snowblower parts, as well as supplies like diesel fuel additives.
The key ingredient in snow business is the snow, local businesses said. People generally don't think about their snow removal equipment until they need to use it, said Reba Lipinski at Lipinski Small Engine in Ivanhoe.
"The first snow of the season is just like the first month of summer for lawnmowers," Lipinski said. There was a lot of snow this year, she said, so Lipinski Small Engine has been busy.
Ziegenhagen said other common repair issues can come from fuel sitting in snowblowers for long periods of time between snowfalls. The kind of snow the area got also mattered just as much as the timing.
"The first snow we got was the wet sticky stuff," he said, which tends to be harder on snowblowers. But it's also good for recreational uses - more people have been coming in to see about snowmobiles this winter, he said.
"It's about the most in 25 years that I remember," Ziegenhagen said. It helped that trail grooming had gotten off to a strong start in the Marshall area, too, he said.
It's hard to tell just how good business has been based on just two snowstorms, area businesspeople said. So far, this winter doesn't compare to the winter of 1996-1997, Ziegenhagen said. But on the other hand, it's better than some of the milder winters recently.
"When it doesn't snow, there's no money coming in," Lipinski said, but "The last couple of years have been good again."
"It's feast or famine," Ziegenhagen said.