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VIDEO: Dealers see early successes at boat shows

Some dealers say they are seeing attendance at events such as open houses and small boat shows far exceed expectations.

Some dealers are reporting a strong start to the boating season and several say they are seeing attendance at events such as open houses and small boat shows far exceed expectations.

“There’s an uptick in activity for sure this year,” Bob Denison, of Denison Yacht Sales, said. The company is based in Fort Lauderdale, but has several locations nationwide.

The Daytona Beach Boat Show was “absolutely packed,” he said.

“Across the board we see a lot of events like boat shows and open houses are really well-attended,” Denison said.

The company held a “Then and Now” Hatteras event last Friday, bringing in Knit Wits, the legendary first Hatteras yacht, along with the newest yacht in the line, a 70-foot model. Triple the expected number of people showed up.

“On an open-house level they’re really hard to pull off because it’s tough to get a lot of people to come to those,” Denison said. “But the last two we’ve done, including the Hatteras event last Friday, we were expecting 40 or 50 people, and we had 120. So it’s not just [people] active on the buying front, it’s people having interest and to see what’s new to the market.”

Joe Lewis, of the Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina in Florida, agreed that sales events are being well-attended and said his company is making sales during them.

“We did a Welcome to the Water event the weekend of April 30-May 1 and it was pretty successful,” Lewis said, adding that the company sold five sterndrive-powered boats at the event. “Three boats we sold that weekend were to people we’d never seen before.”

Lewis said the housing industry is picking up in Florida, which is helping new-boat sales.

“We’re selling boats,” he said. “This is probably our most successful year to date since the economic recovery.”

“I’d say it was incremental growth up until our last on-water event,” he added. “That’s what made it so much better than any year since the downturn.”

Read more about how the industry is faring near the mid-year point in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only.

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