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Published: Sunday, 6/2/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Cool spring chills sales at some local businesses

Firms reliant on warm, sunny weather see slump

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Perrysburg resident Ken Walters cleans his 24-foot Four Winds boat last week at Pier 75 Dry Rack Marina. "My family enjoys going out to the docks, and having dinner," Walters said of his summer boating plans. "We just like to be out on the river." Perrysburg resident Ken Walters cleans his 24-foot Four Winds boat last week at Pier 75 Dry Rack Marina. "My family enjoys going out to the docks, and having dinner," Walters said of his summer boating plans. "We just like to be out on the river."
THE BLADE/JEFFREY SMITH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Warm-weather businesses received a cold reception in the spring of 2013.

The cool weather — especially when compared with last spring’s unusually high temperatures — has led to slow sales for Toledo-area businesses reliant on sunshine.

Although above-average temperatures are expected for June, July, and August, business owners said the spring slump will decrease sales throughout the season. The window to use boats, swimming pools, and other summertime staples has been cut short, they said.

On the flip side, businesses that did well during the spring don’t anticipate overwhelming sales later in the summer.

At Brenner 75 Marine in Toledo, business has fallen by about 50 percent, Service Manager Craig Kennedy said. People are just now readying their boats to take out on the water.

“It was a lot busier at this time last year, absolutely,” Mr. Kennedy said. “The best thing we would sell would be marine fuel. People need gas.”

No one wants to cruise around on the lake when it’s chilly, he said.

According to the National Weather Service station in Cleveland, May of 2012 was 5.1 degrees warmer than normal, with a monthly average of about 65 degrees. This year’s average, 61.4 degrees, was only 2.1 degrees above normal. April also was colder than last year, averaging 49.4 in 2012 and 46.4 this year.

Brenner 75 Marine is affiliated with two other boating operations — Brenner 75 at Harrison's and the Toledo Skyway Marina — and business has been a bust at both, said Donald Smith, president of the marinas.

All three allow people to store boats, dock them in the water, and provide services that allow people to call ahead and have their boat ready and waiting.

“The season will turn out to be a decent season,” he said. “Everybody wants to get back out in the water, but we just need Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit.”

The three boating operations store about 550 boats during the winter and service about 400 in the summer. The other boats are kept at yacht clubs or similar venues during the summer, Mr. Smith said.

Most boaters will spend less money than last year, he said.

“You clearly lose the sales from the gas side of the business and the parts,” Mr. Smith said.

Perrysburg resident Ken Walters delayed taking his family skiing and tubing this year because of the unfavorable weather. It wouldn’t have been enjoyable to open his boat before last week, he said.

“[Last week] was the first time we had it out for the year. We always do a test run just to make sure everything is working properly on the boat. ... As far as the weather ... it hasn’t really been nice enough.”

The decrease in temperature also has meant a drop in sales at D & R Pool Sales. People who own pools have waited to open them, owner Ron Wetzel said.

The sale of pool-cleaning chemicals is down and won’t match last year, he said.

“It is down big time from last year because it was astronomically warm in March and April,” Mr. Wetzel said. “[Last] weekend was down 40 percent because it rained all weekend. Cold weather is the main problem.”

Last year’s warm weather, however, did result in a boost in pool sales, Mr. Wetzel said. People are installing them even if they can’t enjoy them yet.

Sales at sporting goods, book, music, and hobby stores increased by 5.6 percent from March to April, according to adjusted retail data from the U.S. Census Bureau. People have taken advantage of the dismal weather to stock up for summer at the Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, said Jarron Ritchie, general manger of the store.

“Sales for us still have been pretty strong. The impact you’re going to see is when we have nice weather there is more of an emphasis to go outdoors and not shop,” he said.

“We’ve continued to see strong sales in spite of the weather. You’ll see less of that as the summer goes on.”

Contact Kris Turner at:

kturner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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