Northeast storm to spur snow sales

As Winter Storm Sandy -- described by the all-too-familiar phrase “hundred year storm” -- bears down on the Northeast, retailers are bracing for emergency storm sales. 

The snow is expected to start Friday morning, with the most snow falling at night and into Saturday, maybe up to 3 ft., according to forecasters. The New York Daily News headline screams: “Holy Plow,” which is good news for retailers recovering from a light snow year in 2012.

At Springfield, Mass.-based Rocky’s Ace, which operates more than 30 stores predominately in the Northeast, things have been busy.

“Our team has coordinated additional truck deliveries to each of our 29 Northeast stores both during the week and early this morning,” said Geoffrey Webb, director of marketing for Rocky’s. “Yesterday we experienced brisk sales that resulted in one of our top grossing days in recent history. Besides preparation for the initial storm itself, we have also stocked up on emergency essentials like batteries and flashlights. Additionally we have increased inventory for our customers’ needs post storm with items like sump pumps and shop vacs.” 

Sears says it is rolling out inventories of snow throwers, tractor plows and portable generators from Philadelphia to Portland, Maine, as the storm hits. The company said it sells more snow throwers than any other retailer in America. In a statement released Thursday, Sears said it was “preparing for a rush in demand of show throwers and plows to clear off driveways, sidewalks and roads.” 

Aubochon Hardware, which runs 120 hardware stores throughout New England and upstate New York  in  web site, is promoting its “Winter Storm Center” on its website. Generators, throwers and snow brooms are in the spotlight.

For some, the storm represents a logistical challenge more than a sales opportunity. At Moynihan Lumber of Reading, Mass., a cautious mode at the beginning of the week quickly changed to a “hurry-up mode,” yesterday, said Michael Moynihan, co-owner of the three-unit pro dealer.

The challenge will be battling drifts in vast expanses of the Moynihan yards in North Reading, Mass., and Plaistow, N.H. 

“All of the people who are on the snow removal team know what has to be done,” Moynihan said. “They have assembled and attached the plows to the trucks. The front-end loader is ready to go, as is our backhoe. Everything is lubricated, fueled and ready to do their job when the call comes.”