Despite the icy grip of the seemingly longest winter in several decades for Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, dealers exhibiting at the 2014 Mid-Canada Boat Show were generally happy with attendance levels and sales at the show. The event was held from February 27 to March 2 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
While official attendance numbers haven't yet been released by organizers, Show Manager Dave Amey says he believes the total number of visitors approached last year's reported 17,000 attendees. This year, the event included nearly 100 exhibitors.
Most exhibiting dealers report that while attendance seemed down on the Thursday and Friday, there was a lot of traffic on the weekend.
"I have never seen so many families here,' says Amey. "I suppose because of the weather, parents were looking for indoor activities for their kids and decided to come to the boat show. Kids were lined up all day Saturday and Sunday at our 5,000 gallon fish tank waiting for their chance to try casting a line.'
Although attendance numbers may not have been as impressive on the show's Thursday and Friday, the visitors who that came tended to be ‘buyers' more than simply ‘browsers.'
"We had a great evening on Thursday,' reports Avo Marine's Larry Wadge –based in Winnipeg. "There may not have been many people, but they were serious customers.' Wadge reports a lot of interest in Lund's new 1675 Crossover. "We also talked to a number of people about Evinrude's E-TEC pontoon motors,' he says.
Neil Fewchuk, from Lakeview Marine in Lockport, Manitoba, says that his staff was so busy on Saturday that they could hardly keep up. He says Sunday's traffic was steady.
"We were pretty happy with the boat show,' says Ken Hiebert of WSL Sport & Leisure in Winnipeg. "We made some sales and got a lot of good leads.'
"The attendance in the first couple of days was a struggle,' says Wally Wusowicz of West Hawk Marine in West Hawk Lake in eastern Manitoba, "but we mustered some decent sales.' Wusowicz adds that this year's show was a little different than previous events. "I liked the fact that the dealers were moved around a little this year. It gave the show a fresh look.'
Greg Alcock, Sales Manager for Woodlake Marine based in Kenora, observes that the bigger boats weren't selling at this year's show. "Our shorter Boston Whalers were selling,' he notes, "but there was little interest in 25-foot Whalers and up.'
Enns Brothers' David Provencher reports that while the fibreglass sales remained flat, there was some improvement in sea-doo sales. "Sales of Bombardier's Sea-Doo Spark were fantastic,' says Provencher. "We sold out.'
Greg Elkie of Supreme Boats in Blumenort in southeastern Manitoba, notes that pontoons and fishing boats continue to sell well. However, he says fibreglass boat sales have been up and down over the year.
Rond's Marine in Winnipeg exhibited new deck boats and wakeboard models at the show. "Our sales were good,' says Rond's Marine Dealer Principal Garth Bromley.
As far as how the show's results will affect the coming upcoming boating season in the area, most dealers felt it was still too early to tell. "Once the ice melts in June, I anticipate a good summer,' adds Bromley. "But that remains to be seen.'
Amey says he is now working on the Mid-Canada Marine and Powersports Dealer Association's next show, the Mid-Canada Power Sport Show, which will be held at Red River Exhibition Park in Winnipeg from April 11 to 13.