3 Business Survival Secrets From Winter Companies in the Off-Season

Updated on April 16, 2020
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In lots of parts of the US, it’s hot—extremely hot. And for summer-seasonal businesses that specialize when the weather is at its most scorching—ice cream parlors, beach vendors, and shave ice carts, for instance—business is absolutely booming.

But not every business thrives when the temperatures soar. Specifically, winter-seasonal businesses need to make contingency plans to help with the cash-flow doldrums during their off season.

If you’ve ever wondered how strictly cold-weather operations worry about surviving the heat wave, here’s what they do to make it through the summer (kind of like how you park yourself in front of the air conditioner—only a little different). Turns out that every business owner can learn from how winter-seasonal businesses adapt during the off season.

Fuzzy Babba: Cold-Weather Socks and Slippers


Survive #wedding season: the dance floor calls for a comfy pair of slipper socks.

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Fuzzy socks are a seasonal staple. There’s almost nothing better than slipping on a pair of soft, cozy socks during a cold winter’s day. Fuzzy Babba is a sock and slipper company that offers up adorable designs of these cold-weather staples. They have a vast array of silky animals and cozy slip-ons to cause the warm-fuzzies, even in the bitter cold.

And, as you might imagine, demand for cozy slippers dies down when things heat up. So, according to Tara Vera, a partner at Fuzzy Babba, the company shifts their focus to offer slip-on shoes and soft, breathable socks during the warmer months. They also tweak their marketing (as seen above) to match the seasonal trends and highlight their expanded product line.

Dog Christmas Stockings: Personalized Pet Christmas Stockings

bulldog throw blanket

A dog is the member of the family—so much so that yours might get their own stocking on the mantle come holiday time. And that’s exactly what Dog Christmas Stockings, an aptly named etailer, does very well. They make stockings with your dog’s face and name on it. 

But with a limited Christmas season, company owner Jeff Moriarty says that the company pivots to making personalized throws for the rest of the year. “Not only was I able to market to searchers in the off-season, I was able to re-market to my current Christmas customers with products for them outside of the holidays,” says Moriarty.

Cranmore Mountain Resort: New Hampshire Skiing Resort

Ice cream at the summit is perfect on a day like today #mycranmore

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Skiing is, perhaps, the definitive way to take advantage of a winter wonderland. And it’s no wonder that people love hanging out in the mountains; they’re magical and gorgeous, whether or not there’s hot cocoa at the bottom.

The good news in the off-season is that nature doesn’t go anywhere, which is what the leadership at New Hampshire’s Cranmore Mountain Resort has learned to take advantage of. Where there are ski resorts, there are mountains—which are equally as beautiful in the summer.

Cranmore offers an array of summer fun for vacationers during the warm-weather months. They string up zip lines, lead mountain climbing and hiking adventures, plus kayaking over rapids, golf, and live theatre, too. Cranmore has learned to adapt to serve their market, no matter the season.

winter off season businesses

What Every Business Owner Can Learn From These Stories

You might not be able to control the weather—or your consumers’ desires for ice cream in the cold. But you can take a cue on how you frame your perception of the off season, and find a new way to seize opportunity.

Here’s what you can take away from how these winter seasonal business owners have adapted to survive the summer:

1. Think outside of the box.

As the weather changes, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a bout of seasonal, business-related depression. No one wants a pumpkin spice latte in May (or so we’ve heard). So, now’s your time to think creatively. Your market is still there—they’re just focusing on other products and pursuits. Find what they’re interested in, and figure out how your core strength can adapt to be included in the conversation.

Like Fuzzy Babba, you can discover how to repurpose your product for a new time of year. Maybe that means expanding your product line, or recreating something on your menu. Perhaps your lattes are ice cream for the summer, or you add a lavender scent to your Christmas candles for spring. Let yourself explore outside of your season.

2. Look deeper into your niche.

If you have a hyperspecific product—like personalized dog stockings, for instance—take a cue from Moriarty and his marketing advisors and figure out what other products your niche would respond to, too. There’s a good possibility that if your market is a devotee to your product, you’ve caught onto something special about your group of consumers. 

In this case, Moriarity understood that his consumers loved their dogs like family, and was able to offer them another product to bring their pups into their home. Step back and understand not only what’s special about your product—but what’s special about your customers.

3. Be flexible.

Does anyone actually love to be adaptable? Every business owner works incredibly hard on their business plan, and among the most difficult things is to have to scrap hard work. But the hard truth is that just like seasons, markets change. Tastes change. And your business needs to change, too.

The more flexible and ready to adapt you can be as a business owner—whether that means turning your winter resort into a summer getaway, expanding your product line, or changing your model entirely—the better positioned you’ll be for success.