Cold weather doesn’t stop Detroit show crowds

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Opening weekend for the Detroit Boat Show brought in strong crowds despite extremely cold weather — a 35-below-zero wind chill — and news reports that urged people to stay home.

Thousands of boating enthusiasts and buyers made the trip to Cobo Center on Saturday and Sunday to see the show and the 350,000 square feet of all things boating on display and for sale.

“While weather and Valentine’s Day may have played a role in the slight decrease in first-weekend attendance, exhibitors’ comments lead us to believe those attending are buyers and that sales of boats, motors, trailers and accessories are up,” show manager Nicki Polan said in a statement.

“It was great to see the crowds coming into Cobo Center despite the bitter cold. The people have been interested in boating, and we’ve sold boats,” said Patti Smith, vice president of Silver Spray Sports in Fenton, Mich.

“Dealers have told us that in addition to current boat owners, there are new people coming in who are interested in learning more about boating, which is a good sign for sales to come,” Polan said. “The rebounding economy, improving home values, Michigan’s Sales Tax on the Difference law, are all helping drive boat sales at the show.”

More than 68,000 consumers are expected to attend to see and buy hundreds of new 2015, 2014 and 2013 model boats of all types and sizes.

Many dealers say they can attribute as much as 50 percent of their annual sales to sales and leads generated at this show.

More than 1,500 boats worth an estimated $50 million traditionally sell during the show’s nine-day run — it continues through Sunday — and shortly afterward because of the leads it generates.


Workers Wanted

Like most people born in 1990, Justin Bennett was on a four-year college track. He and his parents took it for granted that he would attend college before moving on to a steady desk job — until a stint at sailing camp, and later as a counselor, helped Bennett discover his passion for boats.

Momentum from Boat Shows Expected to Continue

Seventy percent of boat dealers who responded to a monthly survey said they had at least “somewhat positive” momentum emerging from winter boat shows, with 38 percent saying momentum was “very strong” or “strong.”