BEND, OR -- Winter may still be two months away, but Central Oregonians are already preparing for winter driving. Adam Lugan is the manager at Discount Tire on the north end of Bend where business is nearly double what they typically see in late October. "I think a lot of it has to do with how bad our winter was last year. People are just trying to be a lot more prepared and ahead of the game on it." He tells KBND News, "A lot of the new residents coming in to Bend, as well. Last year, that threw a lot of those new residents off guard; and they came rushing in. Now, a lot of them are more aware and they want to be safe when they travel. They’re coming in and trying to get it handled before it gets into November because, despite how busy we are now, when it snows, it’s a completely different busy."
That’s exactly why Travis Dickey, of Tumalo, got his studless tires put on, recently. "It’s a mad-house in here, first off. And, I’m sure most shops in town are like that. The second reason is with what happened last year, to not get caught before the storm actually comes." Bend resident Sarah Douglas got her winter tires put on last Friday because she doesn’t want to worry about heading over mountain passes, "Last weekend, I drove to Portland and I didn’t have my tires on. On Friday, going over Mt. Hood in the afternoon, it was icy and slick and there was snow on the road and I thought, ‘oh, dang! Wish I had my winter tires on'."
Adam Lugan says he's used to the early winter rush, but this year is different, "[At] 8 a.m., I have usually about 40 cars checked in within the first hour of the day. Last year, I’d see maybe 20." And, he says, all those customers are coming for one thing, "It’s winter tires; strictly winter tires: Studless, snow tires, winter tire change-overs and all season tires, for that matter, too. We see it all." Lugan admits some people are getting studs put on early, even though they’re not legal in Oregon until November first. Travis Dickey says studs are too noisy, "I travel a lot with my kids for baseball and sports and riding; I don’t want to listen to the studs. And, the studs tear up the roads, too."
As busy as things are now, Lugan expects business to double once studs are allowed and the risk of snow increases, in November.