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Wringing out sweat, ringing up sales

Wringing out sweat, ringing up sales

Some Capital Region businesses enjoy a surge during heat wave
Wringing out sweat, ringing up sales
Kelley Pratt, 5, makes a sundae at Stewart's in Saratoga Springs in 2016. Ice cream is a hot weather hit.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette file photo

Keeping cool is keeping some businesses busy.

Working on a road paving crew or a commercial kitchen can be brutal when the temperature is above 90 degrees. Many other jobs feature air-conditioned comfort and aren’t bad at all. 

But some businesses have the satisfaction (and payday) of helping people beat the heat.

Here are five businesses that are doing well during the heat wave:

COLD AIR

Anyone selling room air conditioners or fans has a lock on revenue during a heat wave, when many people unprepared for the warmth will run out and clear the shelves of mechanical cooling equipment.

That’s what Matt Barbiere, manager of the Lowe’s in Glenville, has seen in recent days: Air conditioners, fans and sprinklers equipment (for improvised backyard water parks) have been flying out the door.

“We’re trying to keep everything backstocked,” he said. “It’s been a run.

“Obviously AC, everybody comes in for that,” Barbiere said. Watering products … dehumidifiers, even.”

Outdoor cooking equipment and furniture remain big sellers, but more because it’s summertime than because it’s a hot summer.

ICE CREAM

Cold drinks and ice cream are selling briskly at the hundreds of Stewart’s Shops around the region as consumers seek to lower their body temperature from within.

“With the heat, we always see an influx of customers,” spokeswoman Erica Komoroske said. The company makes its own ice cream at a plant on Route 9N in Greenfield, and sales of both cones and cartons are up at its convenience stores.

When the heat wave finally breaks at the end of the week, Stewart’s will kick in its next promotion and ice cream sales should remain strong, Komoroske said. Plus … it’s summertime. “It’ll still be ice cream weather,” she added.

There’s other evidence at Stewart’s that it’s summer: Sales of regular gasoline are up amid vacations and road trips, and customers are buying more of the higher-priced ethanol-free blend good for marine engines. 

Shops near popular recreations destinations are doing particularly well, Komoroske said.

“Anything by water, we’re just seeing a lot of customers.”

STEADY THERMOSTAT

Far below the rolling farmland of Schoharie County, visitors to the two commercial caves in the town of Cobleskill this week are enjoying air temperatures 40 degrees lower than those up on the surface.

Howe Caverns advertises a year-round temperature of 52 degrees and Secret Caverns 50 degrees. That has a nice ring to it right about now.

“A lot of people have been coming by,” said Secret Caverns employee Miranda Mallery. “It’s definitely a nice place to be.”

She said there are more visitors than normal, many of them families with children, especially around the holiday. But all ages are coming down for a look.

One particularly stands out in her mind: An older woman suffering from claustrophobia. Touring a cave had long been on her bucket list, despite the discomfort in tight spaces, and the hot weather finally moved her to get it checked off.

COLD INSIDE

Ever gotten chilled in a supermarket?

They’re famously cool inside, or even downright cold, depending on the season and how efficient the cooler cases are.

This week, that’s not a bad thing.

Customer volume at Price Chopper and Market 32 supermarkets is not substantially higher because of the heat, spokeswoman Mona Golub said. 

“Traffic accelerates during holiday weeks like this one,” she said. “And yes, many customers definitely do seek us out for the comfort.”

The traditional summertime favorites are selling well: beverages, ice cream, ice, anything that can be grilled, and condiments for those grilled foods.

KERSPLOOSH!

A favorite way to beat the heat is a visit to a water park. Water Slide World in Lake George is closed this season due to the death its owner, but there are still three water parks within an hour’s drive of most of the Capital Region: Six Flags has indoor and outdoor parks in Queensbury and Zoom Flume operates in East Durham.

Zoom Flume is busy this season, owner Denise Kerrigan said. Not so much because of the absence of Water Slide World — she suspects Great Escape captured most of its clientele — but because of the heat.

“We’re seeing a lot of people, our numbers are up,” she said.

Zoom Flume has the additional benefit that parts of its water features are under shady trees.

But the most popular attraction at Zoom Flume is in open sun, Kerrigan said: the wave pool.

“They love the wave pool,” she said. “It is crazy busy.”

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