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Snow much fun

Interest in outdoor equipment piles up after winter storm

12/18/20 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Sales associate Hunter Moran (right) shows Dalton Wilt of Duncansville and Arctic Cat Riot 8000 snowmobile at Alpha Powersports and Specialized Vehicles in Duncansville on Friday.

By Walt Frank

wfrank@altoonamirror.com

After the COOVID-19 pandemic put a chill on sales of winter sports equipment, the Dec. 9 winter storm has unleashed interest locally.

“Snow is huge for us. It makes a huge difference,” said Spokes N Skis owner Bryan Caporuscio. “We’ve already had more snow than last winter. Now we are up in sales and rentals over last year, the last couple of weeks have been busy. The weather helps us tremendously.”

“The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty. We noticed people waited longer to get rentals this year. Sales have been down a little bit but once the resorts announced official openings, we’ve seen a huge increase in business. People were waiting for positive reinforcement,” said Caporuscio.

Ski Den manager Brian Graham said with fewer people shopping because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that impacts us.

“Our numbers are down a little bit. With a lot of ski resorts, people wondered if they would be open or have a shutdown. There also was a lot of uncertainty if we would get the snow,” Graham said.

“Cross country ski sales are doing well. … We have had a lot of interest in cross country skiing. People who biked and hiked are turning to cross country skiing,” Graham said.

For those looking for motorized fun, snowmobiles are an option.

Locally, Five Star Powersports and Alpha Powersports, both of Duncansville, are among the businesses that sell snowmobiles.

“The storm (Dec. 9) helped interest. When we have snow, it is easier to sell,” said Scott Cobaugh, sales manager of Five Star, which sells Yamaha and Polaris snowmobiles.

“Supplies are down, dealers getting machines is slower than normal. COVID helped spike sales of all of our products for a while because people wanted to get outdoors,” Cobaugh said

Alpha owner Sean Moran agrees more people are looking to get outside.

Alpha sells Arctic Cat snowmobiles.

“COVID has made it an interesting year to say the least. I would say we are up in sales because people are doing stuff outside. Across the board our sales are up. There has been a significant increase in outdoor activities going on. As far as snowmobiles, sales are hit and miss. We consistently do about 12 sleds a year,” Moran said.

The snowmobile industry has a big economic impact in the United States — $26 billion annually — and more than 51,000 machines have been sold in the U.S. during 2020, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

More than 100,000 full-time jobs are generated by the snowmobile industry in North America. Those jobs are involved in manufacturing, dealerships and tourism related businesses, according to the ISMA.

However, the industry is not huge in Pennsylvania as the commonwealth ranks “somewhere in the middle” of the 20 some states that sell them, said Ed Klim, ISMA president.

“So far this season, we have sold 4,000 in Minnesota, about 3,000 in Wisconsin; Michigan and Alaska about 2,000 since September. Pennsylvania is close to 400,” Klim said. “The vehicles are better than ever; they are more comfortable and quieter. You can keep warm with heated seats. People can stay warm and have a great time.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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