Sales up at annual boat show in GR – WOOD

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – If sales at the Grand Rapids Boat Show are indicative of industry growth, boat retailers are optimistic about the future.

“It’s discretionary income and everyone’s been feeling the prices of gasoline and the economy,” Mitch Jordan of Portside Yacht Brokers said.

He’s been selling used boats all over the world for decades. On average, he sells 70 a year. Last year, Jordan sold 45.

“People are interested in boating. This is has been the best show of inquiries we’ve had in the last couple of years,” Jordan said. “I think I can attribute that to everybody starting to feel a lot better about the economy. They’re getting ready to do some boating and spend some discretional income.”

The 67th Annual Boat Show in Grand Rapids, held at DeVos Place, wrapped up after five days on Sunday. Exhibitioners optimistically watched the crowd, which was much larger than years past.

“After 2008 and 2009, it was a struggle in the marine business,” Jim Rigby of Hall’s Sport Center said. “That seems to be over. People are now going back and doing the things they want to do”

Christine and John Bopp purchased a new platoon for their family on Sunday. They said they waited for the right time to do so.

“People have to be smart about what they purchase and what the value is,” Christine said. “Part of the reason we picked this boat is because we knew it’s going to retain its value.”

“It’s important that everyone feel good about the economy or that the economy is turning around before you make a purchase,” John said. “We feel that everything’s headed in the right direction.”

In Michigan, spending on boats and boating activities is crucial for the economy. Across Great Lakes states, on a good year, sales fall between a combined $16 and $19 billion. The boating industry directly and indirectly supports almost 250,000 jobs in the region, according to a study done by the Great Lakes Commission.

In December 2011, the Michigan Boating Industries Association saw an increase in sales of fishing boats, pontoons, fiberglass boats and personal watercraft.

Other water sporting equipment, like waverunners and wakeboards, have also been selling better.

“Sales have been increasing every year,” Chris Weber, a wave-runner representative with Action Water Sports, said. “As the economy started to turn around and get a little bit better, sales have been going up every year. We had a great boat show.”

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