RUMFORD — Early Wednesday afternoon, Tina Sirois stood at checkout counter No. 5 inside Marden's Surplus and Salvage in the River Valley Crossing mall off Route 2.
The assistant manager and a few other clerks waiting for customers watched heavy snow falling faster than Bill Porter of Rumford could remove it with a bucket loader.
Six inches had fallen by 1:30 p.m. from the nor'easter that Maine news anchors were calling “Snowzilla,” because it was bringing heavy amounts of snow and sleet.
Sirois said she didn't understand that hype.
“Snowzilla?” she asked. “It's like our old-fashioned winters.”
“This is our typical winters," she said. "Those are the winters I remember, and surprisingly, we do have quite a few shoppers who have stopped in.”
She said people were getting to Marden's any way they could to mostly buy winter equipment.
“We've had quite a few walkers, and one person snowshoed in from work,” Sirois said. “She's snowed in.”
“We have a ski stock in and I think that's what they've been looking at, the skiing equipment that we have," Sirois said. "We do have people who are getting shovels and asking for salts, the usual winter mix.”
She turned toward some clerks farther away to check, for sure.
“Have you guys been selling a lot of food or is anything coming through that you notice going out the doors?” Sirois asked.
Two instantaneously replied, “Shovels,” while another said, “Shovels and salt, gloves and ski boots.”
“People are getting into the winter mode,” Sirois said. “Like I said, this is an old-fashioned winter and the ones that are used to it will be the ones that are out and the city folk will stay home.”
She said the store just got a shipment of downhill skis, snowboards and skiing accessories that clerks were unpacking and placing atop a display table near the entrance.
“We've got everything,” Sirois said. “We've got snowboards, ski boots, skis, winter clothing, bib pants; we're still unloading it.”
Watching Porter raise the bucket to pour snow, she said, “Wow, look how high those bankings are.”
“He's been at it since we opened this morning,” Sirois said. “He'll get a part cleared out and it just fills in again. It's been really coming down fast. We opened up at 9 and we intend on being here most of the day.”
That's why she reacted with surprise when she was told that Gov. Paul LePage, former general manager of the Marden's chain, closed Maine government offices at noon, sending workers home.
“Oh, they did close?” she asked.
Last month, LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt quipped that the governor's attitude toward his predecessor's snow days, was, “The rule of thumb is: if Marden’s is open, Maine is open.”
Sirois suddenly turned to face the clerks and said, “Paul closed the state at noon! Oh, gosh, I've got to call him. I've got to call the governor and tell him that Marden's is still open!”