Sales and attendance up at Annapolis shows

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Attendance was up at the Annapolis Boat Shows and exhibitors reported strong sales, The Capital newspaper reported in a story on its Web site yesterday.

Boat shows owner Ed Hartman told the newspaper that unseasonably warm and rain-free weather, coupled with a stronger advertising push and advance online ticket sales, pushed attendance higher this year.

"All I can say is that they are both up," Hartman said, adding that attendees purchased $1 million worth of tickets that ranged in price from $5 to $30. "Sales were great in both shows. We worked very hard at our marketing on the Internet and targeting print ad and radio."

Dealers said the Federal Reserve's recent decision to cut interest rates, along with boat dealer incentives, helped boost consumer confidence.

Jeff Truesdale, managing partner of Clarks Landing Boat Group, which showcased a new Sea Ray model, said his company sold 25 boats with prices ranging from $22,000 to $1.3 million. He said Friday and Saturday were extra busy thanks in part to good weather and favorable interest rates.

"It's a buyer's market,” he told The Capital. “Our sales have been not as robust as they should be, but recently, buyers are out. They've seen opportunities and I think they took advantage of buying opportunities."

National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich said fall boat shows around the country have seen strong demand.

"Annapolis was even more positive than the other shows," he said. "The reports I've been getting from boat builders was that it was a big crowd, sales were very strong."

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