By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

— For as long as winter has been covering us in a fluffy blanket of white, kids have fallen in love with a slick ride down a snow-covered slope. And at the Wirth Winter Recreational Area in Minneapolis, the slopes have never been so busy. Business is up significantly as revenues this season are already nearly double what they were last year.

Julie Steenerson brought her niece and nephew to the sliding hill to spend the day having some good old-fashioned winter fun.

“Right, right, it’s a great day today. A little snow falling now, so it’s perfect,” said Steenerson.

So far this season, ample and frequent snowfalls have Minnesotans rediscovering their winter heritage. Nowhere is this business side of winter any stronger than at clothing and equipment outfitter Hoigaard’s in St. Louis Park.

“It’s been busy, non-stop since November,” said company president, Todd Brewer.

At Hoigaards, snow business is big business. In fact, the season’s normal inventory of snowshoes has been reordered, three times.

Stephanie Naegele was in the store to purchase two pairs of light weight aluminum snowshoes.

“Yea, I just bought some. Renting is a good idea to see if you like it,” Naegele explained.

From resorts to retailers it’s just the shot many small businesses in the state needed, to bounce back from a deep recession and several recent seasons of little snow.

“So much of our economy here is related to the snow and cold in the wintertime. So for us it’s fantastic as well as for ski areas,” said Hoigaard’s Brewer.

Winter hasn’t always been kind to snowmobile dealers like Paul Heinen. He owns Heinen sports in Osseo, one of the few snowmobile dealers still in business in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“We definitely need the snow for this business. That’s what we survive on,” explained Heinen.

This winter has his customers excited again. His repair shop is busy and the showroom is stocked with sleds, clothing and gear.

“The phones are  ringing off the hook and people are coming in, excited about the snow. A lot of people are getting back into snowmobiling and we’re seeing the values of used sleds increase quite a bit this year,” said Heinen.

While the loud roar of sleds on snowmobile trails is music to the industry’s ears, the conditions are equally as ripe for a return of more cross country skiers to the trails.

“This is probably the best winter that we’ve, that I’ve ever seen in the Midwest,” said skier Brian Gregg.

Being a competitive skier, snow conditions have brought Gregg consistent training. Better yet is the fact there have been no cancellations of races like has been the case too many times in the recent past.

“It’s beautiful, and snowy and easy to get out and be healthy with exercise and enjoy the winter,” said Gregg.

Bill Hudson

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