Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cold Winter Warriors Prepare in Jack Gurnon's Hardware Store, Memories of Last Year's Huge Snowbanks Push Up Shovel Sales

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cold Winter Warriors Prepare in Jack Gurnon's Hardware Store, Memories of Last Year's Huge Snowbanks Push Up Shovel Sales

Article excerpt

SUMMONING up memories of last year's record 96 inches of snow, a sign in the Charles Street Supply hardware store here reads: "Remember Last Winter? Need We Say More?"

Whether Old Man Winter 1994-95 brings the Northeast another record snow this year, as the folksy "Old Farmer's Almanac" predicts, or near-normal temperatures and less snow than average, as Washington's National Weather Service says, many shoppers on Boston's tony Charles Street aren't taking any chances with Mother Nature.

Take John Adams of Scituate, R.I., who just got back from Maine. He saw snow in the mountains, felt a chill in the air, and panicked. "I am not looking forward to shoveling out that car," he says. "I don't even remember how many times I did it last year - at least a dozen."

But while Mr. Adams dreads shoveling, he seems pleased with his new toys: grain shovels. "I got a couple of extras. I can put double the snow in the grain shovel as the snow shovel," he says. On second thought, his wife and daughters won't want to help out, he admits dejectedly.

Jack Gurnon, Charles Street Supply's vice president, says he sold his first snow shovel back in August, when most people were still buying swimsuits. And for the past three weeks, shovels have been snatched up like hot cakes. "People tell me: `I'm not going to get caught this winter,' or `Someone stole mine last year.' "

Last year was a fluke, Mr. Gurnon says. "Business was two to three times normal. I remember 15 people holding shovels and scrapers throwing $20 bills at me - I hadn't seen that since Hurricane Bob in 1991. When rock salt was hard to come by, we started getting mystery calls: `I'm Joe, a distributor in New Jersey; you got cash, we got salt.' It was almost a black market."

To be ready this year, Gurnon is stockpiling snow shovels, rock salt, snow blowers, brushes, scrapers, wiper fluid, electric heater cables for roof gutters, ice chisels, jumper cables, roof rakes, ice-melting pellets, and sand - all in historic proportions. …

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