Some Columbia businesses find success during winter months

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 7:21 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Henderson Implement Co. was down to its last snowblower.

The farm equipment dealership in northeast Columbia is one of several local businesses that have found more success than usual amid the cold and snow.

Businesses across the country have actually benefited from this winter's record-setting cold weather, The Associated Press reported Monday. There have been only 32 winters colder than this one in the past 119 years, according to The Associated Press. Some Columbia businesses weathered the cold, while others are just hanging on until spring.

Henderson Implement had trouble keeping up with increased demand for snowblowers this year, said Kody Fleeman, a sales and parts associate.

"With the weather we've had, we had to keep ordering more," he said.

He didn't know how many snowblowers they sold, but chainsaws and chainsaw parts sales also increased, Fleeman said. He heard from customers who cut their own firewood that they've been burning two to three times as much wood as in past years.

The store is busiest during the summer, Henderson employee David Clark said, "but there is a certain amount of business we've been able to derive off (the winter)." 

Plaza Tire Service, which has 57 retail stores across Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Kentucky, experienced a historic high in companywide tire sales before the heavy snows in January, said Sam Botts, a salesman with the company.  

"The forecast definitely brought in a lot of business," he said.

While some Columbia residents fought the snow with snowblowers and chainsaws, others sought warmer temperatures.

Andrea Kenney, owner of Travel by Design, said this has been a good winter for travel.

"I've probably booked more trips this winter than I have in the past two years," she said.

The two most popular destinations are the Caribbean and Mexico, Kenney said.

But not everyone left town to get a break from the cold. Erika Coffman, recreation services manager at the Activity and Recreation Center, said more people head to the ARC when temperatures drop.

The ARC has indoor pools, basketball courts and a gym. However, if the weather gets really bad, business tends to slow down, Coffman said, because people don't want to go out in bad weather.

Other businesses haven't seen the same boost as Henderson Implement and Travel by Design. At Farm Power-Lawn and Leisure, where bright green John Deere riding mowers crowd the parking lot, Travis Burnett said he was looking forward to spring.

"This is not our peak season by any means," he said. Farm Power sells snowblowers, but Burnett said sales have been normal this winter.

At Ace Hardware, a picked-over selection of shovels, sleds, hats and winter gloves — all for sale at a 20 percent discount — populated a small display in the middle of the store. Ben Schmidt said that he hoped to take down the display Tuesday and that he was keeping his fingers crossed the snow had stopped for good.

At Alpine Shop, shorts and spaghetti strap tops filled the racks where coats and sweaters once hung. What few coats were left occupied the store's back corner.

Saleswoman Sierra Gore said that business boomed around Christmas but fell off when it started to get really cold.

"When spring comes, we'll be ready, though," she said, "if it ever comes."

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.

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