Boat shows are producing good returns

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While attendance at major industry shows has been up and down depending on the city, it appears business from all the shows is much improved over last year. That’s good momentum leading up to five major-market events that will open this weekend or next week -- namely, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami – and for the many boat shows still ahead this month and next.

Looking at some reviews from around the country, exhibitors in recently ended shows have reported positive results. In Hartford, Conn., for example, the sold-out show closed up more than 10 percent at the gate and all the dealers reported sales well ahead of any of the past three to four years. Meanwhile, reports from Atlantic City, N.J. this past weekend saw attendance up 4 percent in spite of the Super Bowl Sunday! Atlantic City also joined Boston, Minneapolis and Cleveland, among others that added significant exhibitor space to their shows.

A few comments from Atlantic City share the positive news:

“Heading into today (Sun) we’re only a few boats away from our all time record,” said Al Mury, Waterfront Marine (Chaparral, Robalo, Edgewater); Will Mack at East Cycle Center (See Doo) said: “It’s been incredible! I sold 47 boats (PWCs) out of my booth, 25 today (Sat)!”; and Paul Hoffman at Avalon Marine Center (Pursuit) was obviously happy when he said: “Excellent! We’re tickled to death, couldn’t be happier.”

It was similar in Louisville, Ky. and at Chicago’s Strictly Sail. In the latter event, George Emerson (Hunter) reported: “We’re having an amazing show. We have already sold a few boats, have strong sales leads and have noticed a strong, quality crowd.” Allen Brouwer (Beneteau) agreed: “Nice Turn Out. We’ve encountered only high-quality attendees. Many sales leads and even a sale to close out the show."

Louisville exhibitors echoed the favorable results. “If it keeps going like this, we’re going to have a million dollar show,” said Chip Jaworski, Sea Ray of Louisville on Saturday. “We doubled our sales from last year,” reported Patty Loeser at Ken Bruce at Pro-tech said: “This is the best show I’ve had in a long time!”

The message is clear: When we combine the attendance at all our industry’s boat shows from coast to coast, these events continue to provide all their exhibitors with access to literally hundreds of thousands of qualified prospects and customers. And, with many shows experiencing increases in exhibitor numbers and space, its evident shows are reflecting improving times for the industry.

If you’re not in your local show, yet, I urge you to do it now.


Maine Boatbuilders Show opens tomorrow

In its second year in a new location, the Maine Boatbuilders Show opens tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Portland Sports Complex. Sail and powerboats, plus engines and accessories will all be on display.