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Salesman Jeff Taylor shows off a Swiss Grill Zurich Module System outdoor kitchen at Hearth Designs in Hooksett. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)

Mother Nature's in charge of sales in New Hampshire


Mother Nature helps dictate the bottom line for many Granite State businesses.

The cool, dreary spring didn't help sales of outdoor grills for John Labbe's Hooksett business but proved a boon for moving his inventory of pellet and wood stoves.

"I really didn't mind the delayed grill season because we more than made up with an extended heating season," said Labbe, who owns Hearth Designs. "I was better with the cold."

Workers at Goffstown Ace Hardware saw about 10 percent fewer customers than a normal April but about 10 percent more in June.

"The more people coming in the door, the happier we are, no matter what they buy," General Manager Karen Henderson said last week.

Cans of paint have replaced pots of plants for many shoppers, she said.

Customers at some point discover "it's really too late to plant vegetables, so I won't do it," Henderson said.

The National Weather Service in Concord documented the dreary weather: 20 days in April and 28 days in May with measurable precipitation.

For Costas Miminas, rain and hot weather cut into the profits of his Rochester contracting business.

The bad weather pushed one project back at least a week and put a crimp in his cash flow, said Miminas, owner of True North Contracting. Delays create a ripple effect in scheduling projects, he said.

And last week's weather hurt the productivity of his workers.

"If it's hot like the last three days, they slow down" and take more breaks and drink more liquids, Miminas said Thursday. "The customer does get the job done and the workers get paid and I get crunched."

The spring weather meant grills at Labbe's store didn't go on sale until May, but the month delay meant more people buying stoves. Labbe said revenues were up 10 percent above normal.

"It's kind of a flip-flop" of seasons, Labbe said.

He said the summer season was off to "a slow start, I think, because of our long extended cold winter, but it seems to have kicked into gear. Doing pretty well right now."

A Plaistow business called The Greenskeeper Inc., which focuses on fertilizing lawns and installing irrigation systems, saw the spring weather push back its fertilizing routine.

"We had a full week behind our normal schedule," owner Kevin Wade said. "Fortunately, I have good guys who are willing to work extra hours to catch up and we did."

Wade said any improvement in the new housing market helps him.

"The new construction is always a boon for irrigation installs," he said.

Wade said his business revenues are 8 to 10 percent higher than last year, a normal year for him.

He figures his business is well positioned.

"When the economy is good, people are spending money on their lawns ... and when the economy is bad, people tend to nest and hunker down and want their house to look good," he said. "If the economy is bad, I win, and if the economy is good, I win."

Henderson said the Goffstown hardware store did a good job recouping lost sales.

"The delay in spring, you usually don't make up all the business," Henderson said. "All in all, it was about a wash or about even with last year."

Outdoor paint is a hot seller now. "That seems to be a project for people this year," she said.

"Despite the fact it's been so hot out (last week), I haven't heard people complaining about it yet," Henderson said. "They're still trying to get projects done while it's still summer time."

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