Monday, December 17, 2007

The Dance of the Snowblowers 

My jaw dropped when I read Mike Moffatt on the relative scarcity of snowblowers in Canadian households -- just over 20% of households with gas-powered snowblowers. Now I might believe that number for the USA given how much of our country is in climates where the snowblower is likely to go unused. (One of Littlest's friends, now living in the Richmond VA area, reported receiving five inches of snow but that it was now 70 degrees as she wrote -- my parents in Myrtle Beach reported this AM that it was 32 degrees.)

On my street I think everyone has a snowblower. One of the male bonding experiences is when there's a heavy snowfall. All the men of our street come out wearing their union suits or sweats covered with parkas, and a symphony of cylinders breaks out. I've thought about setting the whole dance to music, but haven't written the score. There seems to be even an etiquette involved in how wide our blowing of the sidewalks should be, and that it is not allowed to blow the other guy's sidewalk unless it is known that the man of that house is out of town. (I travel more than most of my neighbors, so I've been the recipient of this kindness a few times over the eleven years I've lived on this street.)

So what accounts for the low penetration of snowblowers in Canadian households? If you say it's differences in prosperity, what income elasticity of demand for snowblowers are you figuring? I can't imagine this is a cost issue.

Footnote: In my neighborhood in Manchester, NH, growing up, which was mostly populated by first-generation Americans from Quebec, there were only three snowblowers. Two were owned by construction guys who would, when a big Nor'easter would blow 20+ inches of snow, walk up and down the street blowing out driveways. Both gone now; hopefully there are snowblowers in Heaven.

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