While most MetroWest and Milford area residents grumble about the fresh blanket of wintry white now smothering the region, area ski and snowboard shops are seeing another color -- green.

While most MetroWest and Milford area residents grumble about the fresh blanket of wintry white now smothering the region, area ski and snowboard shops are seeing another color -- green.


Spurred by Thursday's snowstorm and the prospect of a major storm Sunday, area residents this week flooded into ski shops and athletic stores in search of winter gear.


Among retailers, it's called the "backyard effect," and after two years of relatively lackluster snowfalls, many this week were hoping Thursday's storm was only the first sign of things to come.


"It's fantastic news," Keith Brachold, assistant manager of Village Ski and Snowboard in Franklin, said just before snow began falling Thursday. "It takes a little bit of the white stuff around here to get everybody excited. We're mobbed right now. People are buying jackets and clothes for the kids. With this little jumpstart, people remember they have skis down in the basement, and they want to use them."


Even shops that sell winter sports accessories, like A Rack Attack in Framingham, welcomed this week's snow.


"We're definitely getting a lot more people," store manager Charles Carp said. "It's always like that ... this should definitely help."


"You see it with clothing instantly," Natick Outdoor Store manager Peter Chamberlin said about increased sales. "It's across the board -- boots, hats, gloves, mittens, snowpants, especially for kids.


"With equipment you don't see it quite so quickly. With equipment people get burned by it. That takes people a little while. You almost need two good seasons to get it going."


Winter sports gear, however, also makes for great gifts.


"Normally, we'll sell a lot more snowshoes and cross-country skis pre-Christmas if there's snow on the ground," Chamberlin said.


As the region dug out from Thursday's storm, business was brisk at the REI store in Framingham.


"I think our nordic business is probably up 20 percent or so," said Eric Bornhofft, a manager at the store. "Last year, we had a big storm in November, then December was warm and there was no snow. Our snowshoe and our ski business was awful in December.


"It definitely has picked up (today,) but overall, the clothing is probably benefiting the most. The business that probably does the best with this weather is our jacket and our hats and gloves."


Other items flying off shelves, Bornhofft said, were collapsible shovels and sleds.


Surprisingly, one of the few winter items not flying off most store shelves this week were alpine skis.


Hardcore skiers, Brachold said, don't typically wait for the winter to stock up on new equipment, and don't typically fall victim to the backyard effect.


"They come in in the fall, spending money on new equipment, and they're excited to use it," he said. "Those true skiers, (they're) on the Internet, reading about what is going on up north.


"But the snow that falls here certainly helps get the maybe not big, big skiers in. When you have this feeling in the air, this cold feeling, and snow flurries are falling, it gets people even more excited."


MetroWest Daily News writer Peter Reuell can be reached at 508-626-4428, or at preuell@cnc.com