PLATTSBURGH — For a weather-dependent business in the North Country, it's either in season or it's not.
Viking Ski N' Cycle owner David Collin said snowfall can fluctuate that store's winter-sport sales by 10 to 20 percent.
"It's really critical that we get snow in December," he said.
Collin's parents, Malcolm and Nancy, opened the ski shop at 453 Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh in the mid-1960s.
This past March, the store moved up to 770 Route 3 in Airport Plaza.
Collin had described the business as a "labor of love" for his father.
"He just wanted to find a source for skis and boots for people who wanted to ski in the North Country," he said.
But how does a ski shop survive the heat of summer?
Twenty years ago, the local store stocked up on bikes and accessories.
"You're always looking for counter-seasonal sports," Collin said. "As the winter season ends, the bike season starts."
And, he added, cycling has become critical to the operation.
"It used to be about 25 percent of our business," Collin said of their cycling sales and repair shop.
"I anticipate within a year or two it will be about half of our business."
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY
Compared to the ski months, Collin said, the bike season is less influenced by weather conditions.
"If you get three weeks of rain in May, then it will depress bike sales," he said. "Eventually it gets nice, and you catch up."
For Adirondack River Rentals, though, Mother Nature can make or break the business.
"This area is hit or miss some years," owner Greg Johnson said. "If it's very rainy, especially on the weekends, that's a large hit.
"That's a big time for us to generate revenue."
Adirondack River Rentals was formerly known as the Kayak Shack.
Earlier this year, longtime employee Johnson and business partner Abe Munn took over that operation.
The pair's re-branded business, located on the Ausable River at 3009 U.S. Route 9 in the Town of Peru, rents out kayaks, canoes and paddle boards.
Inventory is enough to put some 45 people on the water at once, Johnson said.
The rental season starts around Memorial Day and ends close to October.
Throughout the summer, Johnson said, the shop hosts various events, such as a kids camp and paddle board yoga, to get people out on the river.
But the outdoor venture has more than just a rainy weekend to worry about.
Johnson said the Ausable River's water level is a hard variable to juggle.
From mid-May to early June, he said, the water can sometimes be too high.
"Then it's just too swift to paddle," Johnson said.
"On the flip side of that, in October, if the level is too low, then it's too shallow to paddle."
For the most part, he added, June, July, August and September are easygoing.
"We have a window we have to play with between those four months," he said. "You just have to plan for that."
Lake Champlain Pools and Spa have a similar peak season, starting in April and extending to October.
Director of Operations Christine Hubbell and Operations Manager Erinn Hubbell agreed that those months are "controlled chaos."
The local business operates a retail store, while selling, installing and maintaining pools, spas, saunas and stoves.
To ready for the busier months, Christine said, takes some planning.
"We try to get people hired and trained for our busy season," she said. "We get inventory in and try to prepare as much as we can."
The store, located at 106 Boynton Ave. in the City of Plattsburgh, still operates year round, focusing on stoves, spas and saunas during the off season.
But the staffing level does decrease during those slower months.
Lake Champlain Pools employs some 35 in the peak season, but switches to about 20 employees during off season.
"We definitely grow and shrink," Christine said. "Getting the people that have the flexibility and capability to take on a seasonal position is sometimes challenging."
Luckily, she added, many staff members return year to year.
"We're really fortunate with that," she said.
WORK ON, NOT IN
Erinn said that operating a seasonal business comes with positives, too.
"We just try to take advantage of the off season," she said. "To relax, re-calibrate and rethink the good, the bad and the ugly of the on season."
Another advantage, Christine added, is knowing when you'll be busy.
"To plan for it," she said. "It gives us time to work on the business, rather than working in the business."
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