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COVENTRY â Few will argue that one of the happiest places on earth, as far as snowmobiling is concerned, is the Northeast Kingdom.Â
Alâs Snowmobile Parts Warehouse in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom is well prepared to fill the needs of the snowmobile enthusiast, not only in Vermont but worldwide as well.
Al Briere, president of Alâs Snowmobile Warehouse, started the business in a garage behind his home 29 years ago. Initially, the business was a hobby for Briere. That hobby has expanded every year since. Today, itâs the largest distributor of used parts in the country. When necessary, the staff tears apart used and brand new snowmobiles just for the parts. Some of the sleds have never been run before.
âThe demand is there,â said Briere of the parts. This is especially true for brand new pieces. âIf someone wrecks one, the manufacturers donât even have the parts for the brand new sleds.â
Tearing apart a new snowmobile doesnât bother Briere one bit. âThatâs how we make our living,â he said. Separate parts from one sled can cost more than one whole sled. âThe only secret is you have to be able to sell every part.â
Staff from Alâs Snowmobile Parts Warehouse tears apart twice as many sleds than they actually sell as whole sleds. Alâs Snowmobile sells all the brands of sleds, from antique to brand new.
âWe ship them all over the world now,â said Briere. âWe ship them in containers.â
Briere has refused offers to become a dealer because the company would not be allowed to sell competitor brands.
âWeâd be throwing away the business we built over 29 years,â said Briere. âWeâre not on the Derby Road, but people come here from Connecticut, New YorkâŠ.â
Al's customer base started with locals and word of mouth. After a couple years, Briere obtained more stock than warranted the local market, so he started attending different snowmobile events. He ended up with a motorhome and went to shows all over the country. Thanks to the Internet, Alâs Snowmobile Parts Warehouse is known worldwide. Briere, with a desire to semi-retire, stopped traveling four years ago.
Briere's best year in 27 years was 2010. He said there was a lot of snow. Because of a lack of snow, 2011 was a bad year. Briere predicts this season will be good.
âWe have the snow, the cold weather is here,â said Briere. Itâs the usual below zero temperatures. âWeâre going to have a great winter. The people who didnât get to use the snowmobiles are chopping at the bit to get out there and we have the snow.â
Alâs Snowmobile Parts Warehouse opened a rental facility in Jay Village. The firm offers guided tours to tourists and locals.