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Businesses sweat over warm winter weather

By Jenna Troum, jtroum@wkbt.com
Published On: Dec 04 2012 05:30:10 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 04 2012 07:03:34 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

While these not-so-seasonal temperatures mean La Crosse is not seeing a lot of white this winter, some local businesses that rely on the snow and cold are worrying about whether they'll see any green.

There just aren't a whole lot of customers taking snow blowers up to the register lately at Ace Hardware in La Crosse.

"We've got the sleds out now. They're ready to go. But nobody's really looking at them right now," said Ace Hardware store manager Dave O’Mara.

Predicting supply and demand for winter gear is a tricky balance.

Normally, O'Mara would look to previous years to figure out how much to stock.

But the last two winters couldn't have been more different. Last winter, La Crosse saw 21.5 inches of snow. But the winter before, nearly 65 inches of snow fell.

“It's kind of like the stock market, I would guess,” said O’Mara. “You're not going to get guarantees of anything. Mother Nature makes the decision on that."

It may not feel a lot like December, but over at 2Brothers Powersports, shoppers still have Christmas on the brain.

“It could be 100 degrees outside and people are still buying gifts. They're buying sweatshirts. They're buying jackets. They're buying helmets. They're buying all that stuff that is snow-related. Now, if we don't get the snow after Christmas, that's when you see things really slow down," said 2Brothers Powersports sales manager Eric Williams.

These businesses have a short window to sell their winter merchandise. O’Mara said his store started putting out those winter items in October, and then they start stocking their shelves with spring merchandise in February.

If some of those winter items don't go flying off the shelves this season, Ace Hardware may store them for next year and mark them down. Cold weather merchandise can represent as much as a quarter of the store's sales in December.

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