Now that the winter is shockingly mild and dry, many of us assume that next winter will be more of the same. If you believe that, then there's no reason to check out

the snowblowers now on sale at Menards. 


If you believe instead that next winter could be another dose of sore backs, parking restrictions and ice dams, then head to Menards where nearly all snowblowers are on clearance, including single and two-stage models by MTD, Poulan and Murray.You can save $60 to $200 on most models. That might sound paltry, but snowblowers typically aren't a high profit margin item, "Taking $25 off a snowblower might be half our profit," said Mike Frattalone of Frattalone Hardware stores. 

Menards is offering discounts that probably won't get much better until March. But there is one opportunity coming sooner: The Richfield location will begin its "closing for remodeling" later this month. One employee said the closing sale will start Feb. 18. That means everything in the store will be an additional 10 or 15 percent off, including the snowblowers. 

(FYI, some departments such as lighting are already gearing up for the closing sale by discounting display models 25 percent now.)


The Home Depot near Menards in Bloomington has not begun to discount its snowblowers yet. But don't let that discourage you from making an offer. After calling the Home Depot on New Brighton Boulevard. in Minneapolis, a manager asked which model had my interest. "Ariens," I said, knowing that Consumer Reports rated most of them highly in its February issue. "Come in in and make an offer on a floor model" I was told. Apparently, it's a lot harder to send back floor models than the ones in the box. Plus, you don't have to pay extra to have it assembled. Make any offer you want, but I'd start the bidding at 15 percent less than sticker. 


By the way, you might want to reconsider if you're looking at the Poulan Pro 21-inch Single Stage on sale at Menards for $299, regularly $399. It gets the lowest overall score of the 33 blowers rated in Consumer Reports. It received poor ratings for snow removal speed, plow piles and distance. Surface clean, controls and handling were rated average.


You'll have less luck with clearance sales at smaller, independent dealers. Most can return the boxed blowers to the manufacturer. Or sometimes a manufacturer will take them back to sell them in areas with a lot of snow (think Denver). But check Frattalone's too. Some of the models are already on sale. Best of all, the selection is still good too, said Frattalone.