Area consumers hot to buy new pools, air conditioners
CAPITAL REGION The current heat wave has turned into a boon for swimming pool businesses and air conditioning service and repair operators.
The weather is also having a major impact on convenience stores, local farms and ice cream stands.
Chris Gardner, retail manager of Casual Living Pools and Patio on Route 50 in Glenville, says it comes down to people having long memories about the oppressive heat.
Gardener said most customers will make the decision to install an in-ground pool in the winter or early spring, and for many of those on the fence about making such a large purchase, the memory of sweltering heat will be the tipping point.
“Even in January and February, people will remember how hot it was,” Gardner said.
In the meantime, Gardner says sales of above-ground pools, pool chemicals, games and accessories are up significantly from last summer, which was mostly cool and wet.
“As soon as the weather gets warm, they seem to find their way to the pool store.”
Gardner added that the heat makes a lot of people forget about their concerns over the economy, especially when it comes to above-ground pools, which he calls affordable.
“It costs about as much as a new flat panel TV. Even when the economy is down, when it’s hot, people want water.
“It’s not just the hot weather,” Gardner continued, “but the kids are on summer vacation, and they’re driving their parents crazy. So, they come in, buy an above-ground pool and tell them ‘this is what you’re doing the rest of the summer.’ ” Gardner said.
Del Gallo Country Pools on Mariaville Road in Rotterdam sells mainly in-ground pools. Owner Frank Del Gallo says the phone has been ringing off the hook since the beginning of the heat wave.
“We get 100 phone calls a day when it’s hot,” Del Gallo said.
Del Gallo says business has really turned around for him this year, and not just because of the weather.
“The economy has moved a little bit. Last year, people held off [making a purchase] because of the economy.”
Del Gallo said his sales this year have already exceeded revenue for 2009. “When it gets hot like this, everyone who doesn’t have a pool wants one,” he said, while adding he also expects a big carryover into 2011.
For those without the luxury of a pool, the next best thing for relief from the heat is an air-conditioned room. However, many systems are now reaching their breaking point.
A service representative at Mohawk Heating Company in Duanesburg, who did not want to give her full name, said the heat wave has meant major adjustments because of the number of service calls.
“We have been canceling or rescheduling routine maintenance for emergency calls” for central air conditioning systems, she said. Customers with chronic medical conditions or the elderly are the top priorities.
She said repair employees are working a minimum of 10 to 12 hours a day, while installers are “helping out as much as they can,” even as most are booked solid because of a big increase in central air conditioning sales.
“The heat wave is great for our business,” the woman said.
That wasn’t the case for the Center Stage Deli on Hamburg Street in Schenectady on Thursday. The heat forced the business to close for the day around 2 p.m. after the air conditioning stopped working, said an employee, right before he locked up for the day.
Temperatures topped 90 degrees in the dining room, even with the ovens turned off, he said. The Center Stage will open again this morning.
Many residents are choosing to keep their ovens and stoves off during the heat wave, instead opting for takeout — if they have any appetite at all.
Tom Mailey, marketing director of Stewart’s Shops, said several stores are reporting increased food sales, especially hot dogs and subs.
“A lot of people are buying them on the way home from work,” Mailey said, adding that stores are seeing increased sales in soda, milkshakes and ice cream, typical for this kind of weather.
The experience for Nico’s Pizza on State Street in Schenectady has been a bit different. Manager Calvin Neal said takeout sales took “a really big jump” on Tuesday, the first day of really oppressive heat and humidity, but have since leveled off.
“On the first night, no one wanted to cook. Since then, it’s been slow,” Neal said. “Everyone is so full of liquids, they don’t want to eat.”
Neal said he expects business to pick back up with a large influx of visitors for Schenectady County Summer Night today, but can’t predict what will happen on Saturday, when some relief is finally expected.
“If things go crazy, we’ll know it’s because it cooled down. If not, it’s because it’s just the time of the month,” Neal said.
Peter Ten Eyck, owner of Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, is hoping more moderate temperatures this weekend will mean a return of u-pick customers who have stayed away during the heat wave. “Business has been down,” Ten Eyck admitted, but predicted that if the weather cooperates “a lot of people will come out this weekend to pick blueberries.” Customers can also pick summer raspberries.
The hot weather doesn’t necessarily mean more business according to one local ice cream shop owner — just a different flow of customers.
Bob Draiss, owner of Curry Freeze on Curry Road in Rotterdam, said he actually loses customers during the day because “some people don’t come out.” But he makes up for it later.
“At night, after the sun goes down around 9 o’clock, people are coming out, and it doesn’t stop,” he said. Curry Freeze normally closes at 11 p.m., but Draiss said he has stayed open until 11:30 several nights this week because of long lines.
Draiss said his store, which is open from St. Patrick’s Day through Halloween, is doing markedly better this season than last, thanks to a much warmer spring and early summer.
The National Weather Service forecast is calling for another extremely humid day today with a high near 90 degrees. Showers and thunderstorms will cool the region off on Saturday with a predicted high of 79.