Northeast Winter Boat Shows

As I write this, the doors have opened at the 20th annual edition of the Providence Boat Show and the first rush of attendees have entered the Rhode Island Convention Center. (Crickets chirping)

Unfortunately, given that there was a nearly 20% dip in attendance at the New York show earlier this month compared to 2012, and given that RI is still struggling with the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the nation at over 10%, I’m not expecting big crowds in Providence this weekend.

Providence Boat ShowOf course, there is a brighter side to this story… If you don’t like to fight crowds and wait in long lines to check out the boats, this would be a good show to attend. And if you are in a position to buy a boat this year, I’m willing to bet that boat dealers are making exceptional deals to help their business recover quickly.

Seriously, it’s not all doom and gloom. The reality in NY is that a good chunk of the shoreline residents that would normally attend that show were still recovering from SuperStorm Sandy which damaged or destroyed approximately 65,000 boats in the area just a couple of months ago. I still think the attendance at Providence won’t be phenomenal due to the state’s economy, but since the weather is good they’ve got a pretty good shot at drawing some crowds over the weekend.

And I have even higher hopes for the upcoming boat shows like the one in Hartford next weekend, as well as in Boston next month. I stopped by the CT Marine Trades Association office yesterday, and they were optimistic for their annual Hartford Boat Show. They’ve sold out all of the booths, with the boat dealers buying up more space than they have in years. They expect more than one dealer to bring in boats larger than 30 feet, including Connecticut’s newest dealer – MarineMax of Westbrook (formerly Bassett Marine).

No matter how big or small they are, I encourage you to attend a boat show this winter. In fact, is exhibiting in Hartford next weekend and I’ll be in the booth – please hope for good weather, and stop by the booth and say hello.