Annual boat show draws hundreds to fairgrounds

Published online: Feb 16, 2009 News Gitana Mirochnik
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Though the lakes are still frozen, the assortment of boats at the annual central New York Boat Show Saturday was a reminder that boating season is just around the corner.
The event, held at the New York State Fairgrounds, attracted hundreds of people from around the state as well as out-of-state visitors.

Ellen and Bob Geis came to the show because they are interested in buying a bigger boat. Though they live in Dingman's Ferry, Pa., the couple has a summer home in Fair Haven, where Bob owns and operates Trophy Nuts Charters Bayside Marina.

"There's a lot of (boats) for sale. They're expensive and there's a lot of ranges. New is more expensive for a big boat and probably a used boat is a better option," Geis said.

She was also impressed at how well the business is doing.

"I'm surprised there are so many people here and they said that they're selling quite a few boats. With the economy the way it is, that's a good sign," Geis said.

Three local businesses were among the 88 booths at the boat show.

Shore Products Company has been coming to the boat show for close to 10 years, said manager Tom Tutt.

"Generally, we're pretty successful at the boat show," he said. "It gets our name out there, we get exposure. We get a lot of winter drought in our business and we make a lot of contacts here."

Although the company has seen a decline in sales at the store, the boat show has helped generate good potential for future business. Throughout the event, which started Wednesday, employees have talked to nearly 500 people.

The Fair Haven Yacht Club was at the boat show looking for new members. As of Saturday, there were 6 solid leads, said board member Mike Traniello.

He believes the interest in joining the club is similar to what it was last year.

"It seems to me that the traffic here appears equal. I think the reason that the yacht club has chosen to do this in the past is that there are people here and they're buying new boats. They're obviously from the area so we're a home for potential new boat owners," he said.

This was the first year Owasco Marine came to the central New York boat show, said co-owner Dave Wasileski.

"Primarily, we're here for the exposure. Syracuse draws a lot of people," he said. "There's a lot of people in central New York who come to this show and we have the ability to show our product. We have the ability to meet lots of new customers. We're going on our third summer here and it's important for people to know that we're out there, we're doing business and we want to run a good full-service marina."

Many of the people who came on Wednesday and Thursday may not make a purchase until Saturday or Sunday, he said. And while a few years ago people may have bought a boat right on the spot, most are taking a few days - or sometimes months - to make a decision.

"What you're getting now is a lot of people who think a little bit more about the purchase. We're going to meet a lot of people here this weekend who won't buy a boat until April, May or June," Wasileski said, adding that more than 70 percent of the sales that result from the show won't happen until the spring months.

Still, as of Saturday, Owasco Marine sold between eight to ten boats and had 25 to 30 solid leads for possible future sales.

Marguerite and Eamon Massett, of Fayetteville, spent some time talking to Wasileski about the different pontoon boats. The couple brought their 10-year-old son Ryan with them.

The family rented a pontoon boat last summer and everyone enjoyed it so much that the Massetts decided to look into buying a boat.

"We had never had a boat for our own use for a long time and the whole family just had so much fun. So we were thinking if we were going to put some money into some family entertainment for the next couple of years, we would probably get some use out of a boat," Massett said.

They decided to come and see what the options were and Massett has "a funny feeling" that the family will probably buy a boat sometime in the near future.

"They've been very helpful," she said about Owasco Marine. "The (boats) all look beautiful, of course, when you come to a show but it's learning the details of what you should think about when you're thinking about investing in a boat."

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