Snow tire salesmen waiting for snow
December 4, 2008
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. ” Auto shops around Tahoe are sitting on stockpiles of snow tires while they, and the rest of the basin, await winter’s first significant snowfall.
But unlike many businesses in the nation and around the Lake Tahoe Basin, that doesn’t necessarily mean sales are down because the ground is green.
Doug Brown, manager of Incline Village Chevron, said chain and snow tire sales typically don’t pick up until it snows.
Depending on the amount of snow, Brown said he usually sees employees do tire work on resident cars all day long, the day after it snows.
“It’s like waiting to do your Thanksgiving shopping at the last minute,” he said. “It puts a lot of unneeded stress on customers because they need it done quickly.”
While waiting to the last minute can be potentially dangerous, Brown said the people who actually wait to switch tires are the ones keeping body shops and insurance companies in business.
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“A good set of snow tires are a lot cheaper than people’s deductibles,” he said.
While the Incline Village Chevron has yet to see significant tire sales this year because of the weather, their Tahoe City counterpart sits on an inexplicable anomaly.
According to Bill Sharbrough, owner of the Tahoe City Chevron, snow tire sales increased approximately 20 percent in November 2008 from the same month a year ago.
“I’m dumbfounded,” said Sharbrough. “The economy is down, gas sales are down, but tire sales are up.”
Despite a November spike, Sharbrough said snow tire sales in general could take a hit because many drivers are finding all season tires sufficient.
“We haven’t had a big winter in a while so people are getting used to the all seasons,” he said.
Brown said most customers wait to switch tires because they are concerned with sacrificing gas mileage and wearing down the soft rubber that makes the snow tires effective.
But according to Brown, the impacts on gas mileage and tread wear is almost nonexistent, especially with moderate amounts of driving.
“It’s one of the myths about snow tires,” he said. “Driving a few hundred miles isn’t going to matter.”