Winter weather gives local economy a boost

Eric Monnat

Although temperatures are expected to rise next week, this winter so far has been filled with colder temperatures and snow, a sharp contrast from early January a year ago in the Mohawk Valley.

Last year at this time, temperatures were hovering around freezing at its coldest points and there was little to no snow on the ground.

Due to winter weather this year, several area businesses are taking advantage, according to Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Scarano.

Scarano said many residents don't realize people from New Jersey and southern New York travel north to snowmobile in Old Forge and stop in the southern Herkimer County along the way. Overall, he said Herkimer County has hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails.

“The southern part is a gateway to go up there and people are getting off at exits and spending their money at restaurants and stores,” said Scarano. “It's always a plus.”

Scarano said through talking to different restaurant owners that small restaurants are filled up on weekends with people eating breakfast and gassing up before snowmobiling, which wasn't happening last year.

“People are pretty happy about that,” said Scarano. “I think people were playing golf in January last year.”

John Bowen, owner of Bowen's Power Sports in Ilion, said the change from this year to last year has been significant not only in snowmobile sales, but also in clothing and parts.

“When there is snow, people buy. When there isn't they don't,” said Bowen.

Jim Luther, owner of Luther's Outdoor Equipment Sales and Service in Frankfort, said business has increased a little bit, but money is still tight with people, especially after the holidays.

“It's not booming booming, but there is an increase because of the snow. Day to day we take it,” said Luther.

Owner of Kubecka's Polaris in Mohawk Richard Kubecka hasn't seen much of a change from last year and said his business is about the same.

Scarano added snow in the winter not only helps powersport businesses, but also automotive stations because people are having snow tires put on and having their cars serviced and hardware stores because people are buying shovels to clear away snow.

“All in all it is a necessary boom for our county,” said Scarano. “It's a shot to the economy whether its good, bad or ugly.”