How have sales of winter recreation items been so far, and what are your expectations for the season?

District Voices

Published January 1, 2007  | January 2007 issue

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Sales are up. And I expect it as a whole to remain that way through the remainder of the '06-'07 season. ... I'm not really sure what to attribute that to. Actually, they had a decrease in the number of participants and registrations in Marquette junior hockey and in hockey in Michigan as a whole. I might have just hit it right where people are upgrading or people who are currently still playing just needed stuff.
Bill Kiple, Owner
Hockey Central & Golf—Marquette, Mich.

Our sales so far I would say have been flat this year. We're so weather dependent. ... I would say [sales for the season] will be probably similar to last year, probably flat. ... If we get a good early winter, say, some before-Thanksgiving snow, then we have a really good season. The year of the Halloween blizzard, we were out of our entire supply two weeks before Thanksgiving. We just need a crystal ball.
Greg Wilcox, CEO
Country Ways Snowshoes—Minneapolis, Minn.

Of course, it's all weather related, but I would venture to say right now up to this point we're looking at about a 2 percent increase. I'm kind of hoping that holds through as long as the weather keeps doing what it's been doing. [The weather has been] good and cold, and snow is on the ground. ... Most of it has been just basic cold clothing-type gear. We haven't had a (normal) winter for a while so it has made a difference.
Rob Shrider, President
Ronan Sports and Western—Ronan, Mont.

We've had unusually warm weather, so right now our sales are way behind, although November is not a big ice-fishing winter month for us anyway. ... Early sales are usually always good. I mean, they don't know if the fishing is going to be good yet, and they don't know how thick the ice is going to be. They do buy their sleds, their equipment, their houses and lures, anticipating they're going to get out and the fish are going to bite. ... [Later in the season, if] the fishing gets slow or they find out that the ice is not safe in places or whatever, sales will really drop off.
Wade Anderson, President
Dakota Tackle—Bismarck, N.D.

Well, we finished up last spring with a pretty good winter, and so that (enthusiasm from last spring) is carrying us into the fall with real good (ski) sales. ... You know, if we had a rotten spring-a dry spring-then that sticks in people's minds going into the next season. ... It's been pretty dry (this season) but people still have faith. ... We're so weather dependent. In our business it seems like the manufacturers don't stock a lot, and nationally it seems to be a good year for them because they're running out of a lot of things.
Ken Ellis, Partner-owner
Peak Sports—Rapid City, S.D.

I'm extremely busy, but I'm probably a different business out of the norm. ... Mainly, I make racing engines for snowmobiles and for little race cars and such, and so my business is less contingent maybe directly on weather [than a] snowmobile dealership. Most of my racing snowmobiles that I build are for actually racing on ice. As long as they have cold weather, they have ice.
Larry Rugland, Owner
Larry Rugland Motorsports—Colfax, Wis.

District Voices interviews were conducted in early December.