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Mixed reviews on snowmobile sales

Lauren McKeon
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Yellowknife dealerships have mixed feeling on whether the nation-wide economic lurch is affecting snow machine sales in the North.

"Sales have been off for sure this season," said Myles Longphee, general sales manager at Yk Chrysler. "We're down, I would dare say, 25 to 30 per cent compared to last year."

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Force One assistant manager Jason Clarke sits on the shop's most popular model, the Polaris Trail Tour. Force One owner Doug Witty said the economic slowdown hasn't yet touched his shop. - Lauren McKeon/NNSL photo

"When the economy goes down, the first thing to go are the toys," he added.

Longphee said the slowdown can't take all the credit for the drop-off in sales, adding the cold weather is also a factor.

Doug Witty, owner of Force One, agreed.

"It's been slow during this cold snap - and that's very typical of this business," Witty said.

"We get slow when the weather gets cold and the car dealerships get busy. And we get busy when the weather gets warm and the car dealerships slow down," he added.

Both dealers said Yellowknifers are not out riding in the cold temperatures of January and February and added they expect sales to pick up when the weather warms.

Unlike Longphee, though, Witty said the tanking economy in the rest of Canada hasn't touched his shop.

"We spend a lot of time watching the south doom and gloom scenario but here the economy is ... pretty stable," he said.

"I don't really anticipate there being a big change in Yellowknife's economic situation," he added.

Witty said his best seller, the all-around Polaris Trail Tour, is doing well.

"It's always our most popular model," he said.

Even so, nothing is for sure. Witty, who wouldn't release actual numbers, said sales have been on track for September through December, but it's hard to be definite about the future.

"We haven't seen a real impact from (the slowdown) yet - but I guess it's hard to say," he said.

Keeping that in mind, Witty and Longphee are keeping their chins up.

"(There's) a lot of hope right now," said Longphee, who said his shop's most popular model, the Arctic Cat T570 touring sled, is selling strong but is still down "a bit."

"I think we need to pay attention to the fact that our economy is just fine and we'll be fine," added Witty.

Polar Tech, a third snowmobile dealership in town, did not return calls for comment before press time.