LINCOLN, Maine — People will buy their toys no matter how tough times get, Bill Noonan says.
That’s why, with the economy in a slow recovery from the massive downturn of 2008, the Access Auto and Lincoln Power Sports owner didn’t hesitate to add Bombardier recreational products to his salesroom this winter. With the snowmobiling season barely under way, he already has sold 40 of the 52 Ski-Doo snowmobiles he ordered as part of that move, he said.
Two full-time workers, both snowmobile repair technicians, were added to his 11-member work force as part of the expansion, Noonan said.
It’s unusual, he said, to mate a car dealership and repair center, such as Access Auto, to a sales outlet for snowmobiles, ATVs and other recreational vehicles, but in Lincoln, the move made sense.
Snowmobilers “are very brand-loyal, and Ski-Doo has about 50 percent of the sled market,” Noonan said Thursday. “Most of those people aren’t going to ride Polaris or Arctic Cat sleds, and this used to be a Ski-Doo town.”
“Back in the 1960s, there was a Ski-Doo dealership in town, and this draws a lot more foot traffic than cars do,” he added.
The combination of automobiles and recreational vehicles is part of what drew Lincoln Color Center and Sears outlet store owner Peter Lyons to sell those stores about a month ago to local businessman John Hawkins and become partners with Noonan, Lyons said. Lyons declined to identify the sales prices.
Despite the plethora of snowmobile trail systems in the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes regions, Lincoln Power Sports is one of the few snowmobile dealers in the area, with most grouped around Houlton and Bangor. In Lincoln, Richard’s Sports Shop is the bigger dealer, offering a much larger showroom and selling Arctic Cat, Honda, Polaris and Suzuki snowmobiles, as well as ATVs and other recreational vehicles. Custom Sled & Cycles is in Medway.
“It’s been a decent market,” Noonan said. “I sold used snowmobiles last year because I didn’t have new and I was happy with it. And so far this year, it’s been good.”
Robert Bradstreet of Warren and Dustin Trott of Lincoln were shopping at Lincoln Power Sports on Thursday. Bradstreet was getting his snowmobiles repaired, and Trott was buying a used machine for $800. Bradstreet said that as far as he knew, the nearest other Ski-Doo dealer was in Houlton.
Trott said he sold his snowmobile last summer because he needed the money, but the 17-year-old Lincoln resident said winter would be “too boring” without a snowsled.
“The market’s in between right now,” Trott said. “A lot of people are getting rid of their sleds and some are still buying.”