Weather dampens ‘strong’ Norwalk show

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Heavy rain last Sunday washed out the final day of the Norwalk (Conn.) Boat Show & Waterfront Festival, which saw a 29 percent increase in attendance from 2008 through the first three days of the show.

Because of the dismal last day, however, the show wound up with a 17 percent overall decrease in attendance, with final figures listed at 19,862, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces the show.

Attendance in 2008 was 24,015.

Exhibiting dealers reported strong crowds and good leads at the Sept. 24-27 show, which featured a new festival component to expand its reach in the market.

Between 350 and 400 exhibitors were expected, organizers said prior to the event, though exact figures were unavailable. Many exhibitors noted a smaller show footprint than in past years.

“The show was pretty good, the traffic was strong it was definitely better than last year,” said Mitchel O’Hara Jr., owner of Candlewood East Marina in Brookfield, Conn. O’Hara sells Cobalt, Malibu and Nautique boats.

Though he made no sales at the show, he was happy with some promising leads.

“We’re still working on some deals from the show,” O’Hara said. “I have a lot of good leads. It’s definitely better than last year, that’s for sure.”

David Dzurilla, general manager of MarineMax in South Norwalk, Conn., said he was happy with the “good amount of units” he sold at the show. “We met our expectations, and we exceeded our expectations with the prospects moving forward.”

“Our boats were loaded with people,” he said, noting that this year’s crowd seemed more prominent than last year, though the condensed show may have played a role in that perception.

While many consumers Soundings Trade Only talked to on the first day of the show said they were there more to look around and possibly buy accessories, rather than purchase a boat, most said it was a great show.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Tim McDonnell, who attended the show with his wife, Jill, and said he found most of the accessories he was looking for to outfit his 50-foot Liberty cutter, Jolly Mon. “We came up from New York City for it.”

Next year’s show is scheduled for Sept. 23-26.

— Beth Rosenberg


5 comments on “Weather dampens ‘strong’ Norwalk show

  1. pablo

    What everyone is missing is that 90% of the people that attended Friday and Saturday went to see the guys from the Time Bandit.

  2. Curtis

    How many boats were sold. That is the question. Who cares how many people showed up on date night with the wife or guys night out. If boat sales were not up nothing counts.
    Have a nice day

  3. Capt Jim

    As always, Marine Max sold a ton of boats.  You would think with David Dzurilla’s expectations being so far exceeded, Marine Max and Brunswick would be in better shape!  After every show you read about them selling more than expected.  Yet, I still see alot of ’07, ’08 and ’09 Sea Ray inventory out there.

  4. doug

    Lots of talk of increased traffic,but no mentions of sales?Nice weather brings the crowds but if no one is buying what is it all for.

  5. Nathan Gottlieb

    We exhibited 2 boat brands and were pleased with the results.  We did not sell a single boat.  We have not had a great “selling” boat show for years, but we have shown our product and made great leads.  The days of (many) sales at the show are over and we have made peace with that.  We proudly show our brand and meet new customers.  I have 3 deposits on boats since the show.  I am the biggest “fish boat” dealer in this market.  The lack of land space used and lack of dealers in attendance was embarassing to our industry.  Many people who came to the show were disappointed by the lack of boats shown (i.e. wanted their money back).  The waterfront festival was a disappointing effort to boost attendance.
    We have changed our focus to Open House events and smaller dealer sponsored shows and have great luck with both.  Beacon Point in Greenwich, CT (NOT MY COMPANY) hosts an event in early April with 6 dealers and free hot dogs/popcorn that is fantastic.  People look at boats, take test rides, and buy.  Dealers only pay to market the event and for the free food.  This is the wave of the future.

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