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Sales slump for lack of bad weather

Dreams of a white Christmas may be over now, but area businesses relying on a steady fall of the white stuff have been left high and dry since autumn. Adding to the winter woes is the fact that last winter also left snow lovers out in the cold.

Our pre-season sales depend on what went on in the previous winter, said Duane Leach, owner of All Seasons in Scotia, a snow blower sales store.

"The whole year 2006 never budged out of the 40's and 50's degrees; it was amazing to see so much rain and no snow. I'll be glad to see the year end."

Leach, who has been in the snow removal equipment sales business for 40 years, said the non-wintry conditions are among the worst he can recall.

"We've had some bad years as far as lack of snow, but this is one of the really bad slumps," said Leach. "In 1974, there was no snow and no gas, and that was a terrible combination. We've gone through some low snow years, but this is a real doozy."

Leach has had to slash his inventory, but he still straddles the fine line between cutting his losses and having enough equipment in stock should Mother Nature decide to turn things around.

"We still have to stay in business, but we need to stick our necks out stocking snow blowers, and it backfires sometimes," said Leach. "You have to stay positive and hope for the best. But I can say, it would take a lot of snow now in order to shake people loose."

At Emerich Toro Power Sales in Charlton, pre-Christmas sales account for 75 percent of their total.

"In a decent winter, we sell about 500 snow blowers," said owner Kevin Emerich. "That obviously didn't happen this year."

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