DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) With the COVID-19 pandemic many people are rethinking their vacation plans and making another major purchase instead. Here’s how one local boat dealer is benefiting from a boom in the boat-selling business.
At Mr. Outboard’s Watersports Marine, Mike and Heather Bohm are searching for their first boat. A purchase designed to allow safe fun with the family.
“Due to the COVID-19 situation, I think we’ve all gotten used to spending a lot more time with family. And then you sit there and say OK, let’s have fun with family,” said Bohm.
“Sales have been really, really well the past couple of months. Lots of first-time boaters,” said the company’s General Manager Greg Truttmann.
Truttmann says he has seen a lot of people like the Bohms. Especially in the last two months, as businesses reopened and people searched for socially distanced recreation.
“A lot of people who have kids in basketball tournaments, baseball tournaments, soccer all that stuff got canceled,” said Truttmann. “They’re looking for stuff to do with their family and boating is what they’ve gravitated towards.”
In fact according to a June 2020 report by Baird Financial, 70% of boat dealers reported retail growth in May, up from just 20% in prior months.
“The weather got nice, you’re able to go outside and everybody has this cooped up ambition to do something outside and I believe that was a big reason for the spike in sales,” Truttmann said.
But with boat sales seeing a bump among first-time buyers, one DNR warden is urging first timers to follow the rules.
“We’re getting all sorts of new people on the water that may never have been on the water before,” said Warden Darren Kuhn.
Kuhn says boaters are required to carry life jackets, to use navigation lights if out after sunset and carry a throwable flotation device if the boat is over 16 feet. He also urges all operators to avoid alcohol.
“It’s not necessarily a concern if they follow the rules,” Kuhn said.
“For first-time boat owners we always help them out with everything they need to be legal,” said Truttmann.
Meaning all first-time buyers like the Bohms can head out on the water safely, to forget about the pandemic which has impacted so many lives.
Truttman says first-time buyers can find an entry level boat for between $10,000 and $25,000.