WATERTOWN - Lots of snowfall during the winter months can be a good or bad thing, depending on the eye of the beholder.
The snowstorm on Wednesday was a positive sign for retailers who sell outdoor sporting equipment, for example. But at the same time, it caused some irritation for those who couldnt get their snowblowers long-neglected after last years mild winter to start. That trend will buoy traffic for small engine mechanics wholl be called on to fix them.
Black River Adventurers Shop, 129 Mill St., saw its cross-country ski snowshoe sales drop by more than 50 percent last winter due to the mild weather, owner Todd J. Phelps said. Although this weeks snowfall came too late to capitalize on Christmas shoppers.
Everyone was doing their shopping before the snow got here, he said.
But the robust winter predicted by meteorologists has him feeling optimistic sales could rebound this year.
Its going to have to be a steady, constant snow to build peoples confidence that theres going to be enough snow and an opportunity to go cross-country skiing, he said.
Those who remember last years mild winter may still be reluctant to spend $300 on a new pair of cross-country skis, he said. But rentals at the shop will climb if the winter yields plenty of snowfall. The shop charges $10 to rent boots and skis.
Rentals will be up, he said, especially because people didnt buy skis last year.
If the winter is indeed strong, Mr. Phelps said, it will likely translate into more business in the winter of 2014. He called customers habits of gauging the amount of snowfall during the previous winter a predictable trend.
Last years lack of snow has everyone still wondering: Is it worth it to buy skis? Everyones always skeptical, but if the snow sticks around through March and April this year, then that will help next years sales, he said.
Snowblower owners whove left their machines in storage since last winter could be in for a surprise this season, said Benjamin W. Zawatski, small-engine manager for Cheney Tire, 839 State St.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, he received some 20 phone calls from customers who reported their malfunctioning snowblowers. This winter he and other local mechanics could overwhelmingly busy fixing snowblowers that have been sitting around much longer than usual after last winters uncharacteristically mild weather.
Well get swamped, he said Monday. A lot of people are just not starting their snowblowers, and Ive had a lot of phone calls.
Ethanol-based gasoline that sits in snowblowers for long periods of time causes oxidation and corrosion of carburetors, Mr. Zawatski said. He advises owners to empty their machines after the winter and use regularly use gasoline treatment to prevent fuel from causing damage. He also recommends starting the machines at least once a month to ensure theyre working properly.
It helps contain the ethanol fuel and prevent tarnishing of fuel, he said. Most people with problems have left ethanol fuels (in snowblowers) three or four months at a time.
Mr. Zawatski called last years mild winter a perfect recipe for snowblower problems, because most owners were finished using them by the end of January.
Theyve sat there through the end of summer, he said. And if theyre stored in hot places the gas will evaporate faster and cause corrosion.