HASTINGS, Minn. - Listen closely to the snow makers at Afton Alps ski area and you will probably make out little more than hum and hiss.

If you're Amy Reents, who runs Afton Alps with her family, that sound is music.

"When I'm in my house and the lights go dim a little bit as they kick on, I can hear the buzz from the window, we know it's a good time of year," she says happily.

On Tuesday at 4 p.m., Reents will hear another good sound -- happy skiers.

The start of the new ski season will mean Reents can finally put to rest the remnants of the winter that wasn't.

"All of us in the ski industry have been using that phrase 'pent-up demand' all summer, so we're kind of counting on it," said Reents hopefully.

They're counting on it at Hoigaard's too, where business was brisk Monday.

Those first flakes filled the ski department with shoppers like Deb Endly.

"I want snow. I want it. I don't mind the cold. I'm just dying for the snow," she said.

Store employee Linda Lemke believes a lot of customers feel that way.

"It's the ever hopeful that this winter has got to be more fun than last winter was."

Same busy story at Tire Zoo in Bloomington. Manager Kal Kaliher knew he was in for a busy day when his commute from Brooklyn Park to Bloomington took two and half hours.

"We were four, five deep pretty much all day today," Kaliher said.

Back in the shop, service technician Aaron Callahan barely had time to catch his breath.
"Been non-stop cars, as soon as it snows everybody comes in at once," he said.

Callahan knows It's human nature to deny the inevitable.

"Every year. It never fails," he smiles.