Mild winter leaves businesses begging for snow

Mike Latham usually spends winter removing snow and delivering firewood, but not this winter. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Lusby Motor Co., a hardware store in Prince Frederick, stocked up for winter, but sales of winter products have been sluggish. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Bags of mulch are piled high outside Lusby Motor Co. The store manager says because of the wimpy winter, the hardware store will probably put out more spring products earlier than usual this year. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Michelle Basch,

CALVERT COUNTY, Md. – It’s hard to believe it’s late February, with temperatures expected to reach the mid- to upper 60s later this week. While many people love this mild weather, some local businesses are begging for snow.

Cynthia Ward is the manager at Lusby Motor Co., a hardware store in Calvert County that’s also a John Deere and Toro dealer.

She says winter products just aren’t selling.

“No shovels, no salt. So now we’re kind of like, getting ready to get ready for the spring,” Ward says.

Bags of mulch are piled high in front of and next to the store on Main Street in Prince Frederick.

“We have plenty of snowblowers,” Ward says, and she’s willing to sell them at a discount.

This is the time of year when her boss starts buying products for next winter.

“It’s kind of crazy when you’re in the hardware business to kind of predict what each year is going to bring you. So you’ve just got to order it, and just hope for the best,” she says.

In nearby St. Leonard, Mike Latham owns Mike’s Works, LLC. It’s a landscaping and gutter cleaning company in milder months, and in the winter offers snow removal and firewood.

“This year is really really slow,” Latham says. “We average during the summer anywhere from $800 to $1,200 of business a day. Right now, we’re making that a month.”

He says he sold out of seasoned firewood back in October, and hasn’t had much demand since then.

“This time of year we’re normally selling one or two cords a week. I have sold two cords in the past month,” says Latham.

He’s trying different things to keep money coming in.

“I’m still cleaning gutters in the middle of February, which normally I wouldn’t even think of.”

One bit of good news: the weather allows him to start landscaping extra early.

“Because of the mild weather we can mulch earlier if you have annuals,” Latham says.

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