By Ryan Johnson
Grand Forks (ND) Herald
Snowmobile sales are booming at Revolutions Power Sports, but sales manager Paul Callina said it's not just "all the snow" that's behind the busy season for dealers across the Red River Valley.
"I think everybody's mood has just gotten better," he said.
It hasn't hurt that more than 25 inches of snow has fallen in Grand Forks and almost 50 inches has fallen in Fargo the past three months, Callina said.
"Once you get that first coating of snow on the ground, you're pretty much off and running," he said. "And it's been helpful this year that the snow hasn't turned into a rock because it's 20-below every day."
Improved financial conditions have helped boost sales just as much as the snowy winter, Callina said, especially because there's more access to financing this year for potential buyers.
"A lot of the guys that wanted to before were just unable to acquire financing," he said.
Ron Thompson, owner of Gateway Sports Inc., said the region wasn't as affected by the recession as other areas of the country, but the downturn still had an impact on local sales.
"When everyone was told to quit spending, they certainly did," he said. "But that mood has changed."
Another difference is the shortage of used snowmobiles on the market-something that Thompson said wasn't a problem last year because people tend to sell their sleds if there's a late start to the winter.
"But when it snows early, they forget how bad it's been and they just get on their sleds and ride," he said.
Thompson said Gateway Sports started out the winter with about 50 snowmobiles, more than enough to meet the local demand last year.
"We have three left," he said. "We haven't had three left since we started 20 years ago. We've always had more that we carried over."
If that seems like an impressive amount of sales in one winter, Thompson said it's "nothing" compared with the heyday of snowmobile sales in Grand Forks two decades ago.
His store ordered 165 snowmobiles for the 1996-97 winter and sold about 135 of them. But he said that winter showed there is such a thing as too snowy of a winter, even for outdoor enthusiasts in the Red River Valley.
"That year, the winter was so nasty that people bought plane tickets instead of snowmobiles."
Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to email@example.com.