Imagine the frustration of a seemingly prepared homeowner whose past snowblower purchase offered a sense of security, only to have that very snowblower break down when it matters most.
Don Saranzak sees the scenario all winter, every winter.
The general manager of Arlington Power Equipment in Palatine says 90 percent of customers who bring in busted snowblowers neglected to stabilize, condition or run the fuel out of the equipment after a storm.
That cardinal rule, along the vital caveat to never reach your hand into an auger to unclog snow, were repeated time and time again this week as customers steadily flowed in and out of the Rand Road business ahead of Tuesday's blizzard.
"I know most people don't like it, but this is the storm we've been waiting for," Saranzak, of Spring Grove, said. "The one- and two-inch dustings we've had all winter don't cut it for us."
As the storm rolled in late Tuesday afternoon, Arlington Power was eerily quiet aside from a few customers -- a situation Saranzak described as the calm before the storm.
"We had the planners here on Monday and we expect the procrastinators in tomorrow (Wednesday)," he said.
Arlington Power, which opened more than 30 years ago and moved into its current 24,000-square-foot facility in 2007, sells more than a dozen snowblower models ranging from about $350 to $2,300.
Palatine resident Jim Thomas stopped in after picking his daughter up from day care in order to buy a belt in the event his machine's gives out.
Like most others, Thomas planned on giving his driveway a first pass about 8 p.m. Tuesday to make the following morning's job easier. That's the strategy Saranzak recommends since anything over 10 inches proves difficult for snow equipment.
Arlington, which provides warranties, parts and service and also carries a host of shovels, plowers, salt, lawn mowers, blowers and saws, is well-stocked, Saranzak said.
"We ordered more of everything and are fully stocked," he said. "We're in an industry that's weather-driven, so we know how to be prepared."