Boat Dealers Find Buyers Optimistic

Fans looking forward to the summer boating season are setting sail for the annual WBAY Boat Show and Waterfront Lifestyle Expo this week, but are they buying?

At the boat show, customers have plenty of options looking for big water toys, and so far business in 2012 is better than ever.

“We do feel it’s the best time to buy a boat at this show,” Eric Harthun, who came from Appleton, said.

According to local boat dealers, despite the recession, customers are optimistic about buying this year.

“Sales this year are up quite a bit from last couple years. We did several boat shows so far this year. People are upbeat, positive, people are in a buying mood,” Shipyard Marine sales manager Tim Hogan said.

Some customers credit the economy for driving down boat prices and making the idea of buying a boat appealing.

“I think with the economy being the way it is, I think dealers want to sell, so I think they’re willing to work with you a little bit more maybe than in previous years,” Bonnie Harrison said.

The most popular boat choice for 2012, according to Hogan and others, “Pontoons seem to be the hot market right now.”

“We’re seeing sometimes two families buying a pontoon versus just each family buying their own pontoon,” Ken’s Sports owner Jay Vanderloop said.

As for the best time to buy, customers we talked to agree that buying off-season is best for the lowest prices, but boat dealers expect sales to keep going up through the summer.

“The interest we’ve seen, calls, Internet leads, things like that coming in, it’s definitely an upbeat year,” said Hogan.

And boat owners are already thinking about getting their new toys out on the water.

“I’m ready. We’re very excited,” Harrison said.

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