Winter boon for retailers of snow-related merchandise, services

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TRURO - Jim Chisholm stops his plow truck for a moment, offers up a smile for the camera and then tosses in an accompanying quip.

Jim Chisholm of Chisholm's Snow Removal and Lawn Care has been logging lots of hours in the driver's seat of his plow truck this winter.

"People are probably thinking I'm smiling because I'm making money," he says with a chuckle.

Whatever his net receipts turn out to be, one thing is certain for Chisholm and anyone else dealing with snow-related merchandise or services of late - things have been hectic.

"Yeah, it's been a pretty busy year," the Truro businessman says. "Like the farmer says, ‘you've got to make hay when the sun shines."'

Or plow snow, as the case might be.

As the owner/operator of three plow units, Chisholm and his other drivers were kept extremely busy during and after Wednesday's blizzard, not to mention the preceding storms.

"A lot of snow," he said. "Pretty much had to shut down for awhile because you couldn't keep ahead of it. Whatever you did, it just filled back in. You wouldn't even leave a parking lot and it looked like you weren't there."

Despite spending up to 18-hours per day in the driver's seat during such storms, Chisholm is not complaining.

"When it's snowing it's good," he said.

Martin McCallum, service manager at the Cat Shack in Truro, is also keeping happily busy, thanks to Mother Nature's generous dispensing of snow this winter.

"They're terrific, they're awesome," he said of the season's sales in snowmobiles, ATVs and generators.

"They're way up. There's a lot more snow and a lot more storms (than last year). Winter is good for business."

A lot of people like to have generators for backup in case their power goes out, McCallum said, so when it is snowing and there's lots of winter, business is good in varying respects.

"A lot of people use ATVs for plowing their driveways and getting to their camps or whatever and, of course, snowmobiles are pure recreation," he said. "We're really, really, really busy."

Roy Hiltz, owner of He-Ro's Power Equipment and Pump Shop in Bible Hill, said he has also noticed a marked difference in business this winter.

Hiltz opened his shop in November 2012 so last year was his first full winter. Admittedly, he was late getting started for the season so it's hard to really compare.

Still, Hiltz said, compared to last winter, the call for snow blower repairs is "day and night this year. Way more business, it increased big time."

And while the businessmen said they appreciate the fact that a winter of heavy snowfall makes life difficult and challenging for some people, from an economic perspective, a winter's grey skies do provide a silver lining to those who retail in winter merchandise and services.

"This type of business is unpredictable. Just like the weather in Nova Scotia from one winter to the next. You never know what kind of business you are going to have. It's feast or famine," Hiltz said.

"But it did definitely boost the economy, I think and it's good for anybody selling snow blowers, because if you don't sell your snow blowers by the end of January, your likelihood of selling them for that season is done."

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Power Equipment and Pump Shop

Geographic location: Truro, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia

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