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Billings snowmobile dealers struggling to sell during dry winter

Posted at 5:13 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 12:26:16-05

BILLINGS - Billings snowmobile dealers say they are struggling to sell snowmobiles this winter due to a lack of snowfall.

The lack of snow has made for an already shortened season for riders, and businesses in Billings have suffered because of it.

Kent Boos is among the many snowmobilers in Billings who's been itching to get out on the trails.

"Well, it's been a slow season to get started," Boos said. "Normally, we're usually always riding early January, sometimes before Christmas on a good year."

Boos said that instead this year, he didn't get out for the first ride until the middle of January, and even then the conditions were noticeably thin.

"You've got to be careful," Boos said of the current terrain. "You've got to look for any little feature in the snow. There's just not enough snow up there to ride aggressive and ride the way we normally do."

Boos said part of his eagerness stems from the fact that at the end of last year, he purchased a new snowmobile that hasn't gotten much use.

"It's frustrating because I have a brand new snowmobile I want to break in," Boos said. "But at the end of the day, this weather is cyclical. We've had good winters and bad winters, it's just part of it."

The less-than-ideal conditions have affected local businesses. Billings Basecamp Polaris, located on Midland Road, has felt the pinch. Sales Manager Skip Heimbichner said they've barely put a dent in their annual load of sleds, which they order a year in advance.

"It's been a tough year all the way around," Heimbichner said. "You're guessing how many you're going to need and the last thing you want to do is run out in a good snow year. Well, this year we've got lots of sleds and no snow."

It has been difficult the past couple of years for snowmobile dealers worldwide. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, last winter's sales dropped 4.5 percent to just 124,769 sleds sold around the world.

But the recent snowfall in Montana has Heimbichner hopeful.

"Now we're starting to get snow, so hopefully the guys that bought sleds can get out and get some riding in," Heimbichner said. "If you're thinking about getting a sled, come in and come see us."

Heimbichner said that they're offering special deals to close the year out, in hopes of getting the last 20 snowmobiles on their lot sold.

"We'll make deals with you because we don't want to hold the sleds over," Heimbichner said.