ELLSWORTH — Other than hoping and praying that the Farmer’s Almanac is wrong about another brutal winter, there is only one other thing to do: Be prepared.
That’s exactly what many Hancock County residents are doing, stocking up on generators, snow blowers and plows in case of a repeat of last year’s never-ending winter.
“Snow blower sales for the month of October are kind of through the roof,” said David Lakeman, general manager of Greenway Equipment Sales in Ellsworth. “People look at the weather from last year and think they need to get ready for this year.”
Lakeman said sales for walk-behind and snow blower attachments for tractors, lawnmowers and UTVs are up earlier than usual this year.
“I even reserved a bunch for people who didn’t get them last winter,” Lakeman said.
Walk behind snow blowers are hand-held and range from $899 to $3,000, depending on horsepower and features. Some have heated hand grips. Lakeman said walk-behind blowers are good for taking care of average-sized yards and walkways.
People who already own lawnmowers, tractors or utility task vehicles can buy snow blower attachments for those machines. The attachments cost anywhere from $1,200 up to $20,000, depending on the size of the equipment.
At Friend & Friend in Ellsworth, Sales Manager Jason Hardison said he has seen an increase in sales of plow attachments for all-terrain vehicles.
“We’ve seen an uptick in sales of four-wheeler plows since the last winter,” Hardison said. “A lot of houses are adding ATVs and UTVs these days, so they are adding plows to those.”
Ellsworth Chainsaw in Trenton sold out of its two dozen Husquvarna snow blowers and ordered more to keep up with the demand.
“People are nervous of what we had last winter,” said Sales Manager Michael Holmes. “They told us it wasn’t supposed to be so bad and you saw how that happened. People are anticipating the worst.”
While some anticipate big snowfalls, others are gearing up for potential power outages.
Charles Colwell, co-owner of Colwell Diesel in Ellsworth, said he has seen a big increase in generator sales this year.
“I think people remember that the power went out last year and are saying, ‘I think I’m going to do something about it this year so I don’t have to mess with it,’” he said.
Generators range in price from hundreds of dollars to thousands. There are portable generators, and large, standby generators.
Portable generators are more affordable, ranging from $500 to $1,200, but can only power up a few appliances at a time.
“People who buy those, they are looking for something to keep the furnace on, the refrigerator going so the food doesn’t spoil and the water pump going so they can flush,” Colwell said. “It’s a survival type of thing.”
Eventually, he said, many people graduate to permanent home backup generators, which can cost up to $8,000.
“People are tired of grabbing [their portable generator] from the garage, moving the kid’s bicycle out of the way, filling the thing up with gas,” Colwell said. “About the third time they do that, it’s not so much fun.”