London car and hardware services hit by winter rush ahead of possible snowfall

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Winter is coming to London and residents may not know what has hit them until they are outside this weekend.

Indeed, the first snowflakes should hit the forest town today.

Businesses in the city, from mechanics to home hardware stores, say they are busier than ever coping with a rush for their winter services.

“Now’s the time to put on your winter tires,” said Peter Kimbell, Environment Canada’s warning readiness metrologist. The risk of showers this weekend is not major, but it is a wake-up call for residents and drivers to be prepared, he added.

“A lot of times the first snowfall is sometimes the most dangerous because people have forgotten how to drive in winter,” he said.

Snow has already hit parts of Western Canada. Last week, Environment Canada issued snowfall warnings for mainland British Columbia, with up to 25cm covering major roads. Calgary also experienced its first cold spell this week, with up to 20 cm of snow. In central Ontario, London could reach 15 centimeters this weekend.

A Kal Tire mechanic prepares a vehicle for an annual winter tire change. (Clement Goh/CBC News)

“Once the snow starts flying it will get crazy,” said Craig Breault, assistant manager of Kal Tire in downtown London. The tire store is seeing unusually slower business from customers taking advantage of warmer weather in early November, he said.

The team also expects all six phone lines to come on for appointments after the first sign of snow.

“We may have to delay people a day or two,” Breault said. He recommended drivers bring their cars a week before a major snowfall hits so they won’t be caught trying to get in during a surge of last-minute appointments. .

“If too many people are doing this, we won’t be able to help anyone,” he said.

“Mad Race for Shovels”

“There’s always a mad rush the first time we have snow, and you’ll see customers coming for shovels, salt and all the typical items,” said Mac Copp, the fifth generation manager of Copp’s Buildall. , a family-owned hardware and construction business. store that has been operating in London for 145 years.

Most customers come in as soon as they see snow, prompting panic buying for shovels and salt, Cop said. “People usually and generally wait to start seeing it to really buy the materials they need.”

Mac Copp is the fifth-generation owner of family-owned hardware store Copp’s Buildall and says customers frequently rush for shovels, salt and ice melter at the first sign of snow. (Clement Goh/CBC News)

Most customers think of winter needs at the start of November, said Mike Barker, managing director of Summer’s Home Hardware in east London.

Salt, shovels and ice melt are three of the store’s heavy hitters and have sold out frequently in recent years, Barker said.

“Those are things that will be a little tighter in January. So think about that now,” he said. Snowblowers will also be harder to find due to supply chain issues and pre-orders that are already impacting supplies, he added.

“One of these years we’re going to get hammered with snow. And I think that’s this year,” he said.

Mike Barker, Managing Director of Summer’s Home Hardware, stands next to bags of salt in anticipation of snowfall in London. (Clement Goh/CBC News)

The last major snowfall in London came in January when residents woke up to 20cm of snow which caused disruption across the city. Residents spent their morning cleaning driveways, walking sidewalks and battling visibility on the roads.

Although Londoners received lighter snowfall on Sunday, Kimbell still urged drivers to slow down, give cars more space and focus on relearning winter driving.

“With the first taste this weekend, I’m sure we’ll see more to come.”

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