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Detroit Boat Show

Old 02-17-2019, 04:44 PM
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Default Detroit Boat Show

It looked like the Detroit Boat Show continued to improve. What else are you going to do in February? It seemed there were more boats and vendors. A salesman mentioned the show may move to January, now that the auto show is changing to June.
Old 02-17-2019, 06:29 PM
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Went up today. Not a bad show. Missed Cleveland due to the snow storm which is in January.
Old 02-17-2019, 06:40 PM
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More variety then I've seen in the recent past. The crowds are strong and having a great time, lots of people from Ohio and Northern Michigan making the trip. The show will be moved to January next year (like it was in the 80s), that will help because many boats ordered at this show wont be received until June due to lead times.
Old 02-18-2019, 12:51 AM
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I am going Wednesday. Bring 5 canned goods and they will give you a free ticket to the show. My son is coming down on Friday and we both will be going to the show on Saturday.
Old 02-18-2019, 02:43 AM
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Was it all fishing boats and pontoons? I went about 7 years ago, wasn’t there long as I had no interest in either.
Old 02-18-2019, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by alwhite00 View Post
Was it all fishing boats and pontoons? I went about 7 years ago, wasn’t there long as I had no interest in either.
I haven't been this year yet, but the last few years have been pretty good. I hear it is better than last year.

There were a few years were it was VERY disappointing, like 2012-2013 IIRC, and not really worth the price of admission. Not bad if you were down there anyways and looking for something to kill some time or hang out with friends, but not really worth it just to look at boats and accessories.
Old 02-18-2019, 05:16 AM
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I go every year, like it was mentioned above there will be lots of pontoons an smaller aluminum fishing boats I'm sure. That is a huge part of the market in this area. There are only a few boats and vendors I go to see. I get free tickets from some friends, so may as well go look at some nice boats, some pudwacker boats, and everything else they have there.
Old 02-18-2019, 06:51 AM
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I used to REALLY like visiting all the small booths around the show. I'd pick up the street maps from the Metro Parks booth, because they were just awesome maps to give to any out-of-towners (we had a lot of contractors working for us) but with GPSs now that isn't so important anymore. There used to be more engine builder guys and it was fun checking out what they had on display. I remember when Indmar brought their big tractor-trailer in there and announced the V-10 (based on the Dodge truck engine). Always liked stopping by the Dossin Display to see what was coming up there or the scuba guy who would display his most recent finds.

Not really thrilled to see a lot of pontoons and ski boats. To me, those are suited for the Novi show but I understand those are easier sellers. I miss when they had a WHOLE BUNCH of big boats, which would wet the appetite even though all you could afford was a smaller cruiser. I think those big ones got people to stretch for a 30-32' when they really just were looking for a 25' boat. Now they just go buy the 25' boat.
Old 02-18-2019, 11:04 AM
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Was there on Sat. They should call it the Detroit Pontoon show. Pontoons were easily 60-70% of the floor space. I think that was my last show. Nothing there of interest for me. ( I say that every year, though.....)
I would love to see way more booths of companies selling accessories, upgrades, etc.
Old 02-18-2019, 11:12 AM
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Ok, thanks for verifying that nothing changed.
Old 02-23-2019, 06:09 AM
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Went last Monday with my older son, plenty to drool over but prices are still super inflated and the salespeople didn't seem motivated, coulda been because it was a Monday and my budget was less than $200k... lol.
Old 02-23-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by peninsula_jumper View Post
Went last Monday with my older son, plenty to drool over but prices are still super inflated and the salespeople didn't seem motivated, coulda been because it was a Monday and my budget was less than $200k... lol.
With that budget you may be able to get a 22’ toon with a 50 Merc if you do a little haggling. 😄
Old 02-23-2019, 12:20 PM
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Just got back. OK show, but overall I was disappointed.

For several reasons... it did appear to be actually smaller than last year. Maybe they packed them in tighter but it seemed like there was more space last year. Also, unless I somehow missed it, they didn't have that "classic" section with the old wood boat displays. I thought that was really cool. While there were a few bigger boats, they were pretty sparse. Most of the bigger boats there I thought were VERY poor quality (even with some of the decent name brands!). Seemed like you could put a "Sauder Woodworking" sticker on some of them. A lot of obviously laminated panels. There were only a couple boats I was on that I felt were nicely built. I was also surprised on the (two) Carvers that were on display there were cheap steel ladders to get up to them and no railings or anything behind the swim platforms which were 4' off the ground.


I think they (the organizers) are totally missing the point of the show. It should be "priming the pump" of potential boaters and boat purchases. It should get you excited about boating in the area and about dreaming "big". Maybe you leave there and buy a used boat from somebody and that guy gets to buy a new boat from one of these vendors. You prime the pump by having cool "out of reach" stuff there and interesting things. Get people thinking and talking about boating and help them figure out ways to make it possible. Get them to come to the show even if they NEVER had a boat before and aren't ready to buy "right now." SOMETIMES the show gets a direct sale, but sometimes it's just putting the interest in there and getting your contact info out there. A LOT of folks don't even want to go, or won't talk to folks there because "they're not in the market for a boat right now" or don't want to risk talking to a high-pressure sales person. They need to get AWAY from that or the show will continue to drop in attendance. You don't need 5,000 versions of pontoons to show folks what pontoon life would be like. You need to get them INTERESTED in wanting a pontoon or some other boat, or just generally the "boating" lifestyle.

Ok, off my soapbox for now.
Old 02-25-2019, 07:27 AM
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Just a thought. The money does not exist for Northern and Great Lake Marines to put on a first class Boat Show, in no small part because the season is just too short.
Old 02-25-2019, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Bison View Post
Just a thought. The money does not exist for Northern and Great Lake Marines to put on a first class Boat Show, in no small part because the season is just too short.
Not looking for something like Miami or Annapolis, but something more appropriate than what we've been seeing.

Michigan has the 2nd or 3rd highest number of registered boats (770,000), has about $7.4 BILLION in boating-related spending annually and there's about 58,000 jobs related to it, even though it's a seasonal thing.

The industry will not grow unless the folks in the industry plant some seeds every now and then. If they only use the shows to harvest the crops, the fields will be bare in no time, or will be full of weeds!!


(not to imply that pontoons are 'weeds'!! ... just thought about that after I typed it! )
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bison View Post
Just a thought. The money does not exist for Northern and Great Lake Marines to put on a first class Boat Show, in no small part because the season is just too short.
It's inside that is the issue, only so many boats you can fit and trailer in. Also, Michigan has small lakes and big water, so you get a blend of everything.

There is a boat show at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club in May that will have large boats in the water. Also, there is another show in Sept at Lakes St. Clair Metro Park which will have large boats in water.

If you don't think the money exist, you don't have a clue what you're talking about.
Old 03-28-2019, 09:19 PM
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The problem for the Detroit Boat Show for many years was it was held on the same weekend as the Miami International Boat Show. This conflict guaranteed there would be zero factory people or factory booths at the Detroit show--those folks all go to the Miami show.

If the show has or will soon be moving to a date that does not conflict with the Miami International Boat Show, perhaps the Detroit show will finally get some factory support and factory booths.

The guys with the antique wooden boats were rather antique themselves, so I can imagine that perhaps they don't have the energy any more to bring all those boats to the show.

There are so many pontoon boats because that is the type of boat that sells today.
Old 03-29-2019, 11:50 AM
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A few observations, and I realize that I will probably sound like a whiner. The show was nice I thought, but every year I feel more and more like I am living in a different world. One thing for sure is, I don't make enough money to be a potential buyer for these dealers. I feel like the dream is getting further and further our of reach. A run of the mill fiberglass center console of roughly 21 feet with a four stroke 200 and a trailer= $57,995 and this is on the low end. By the time you are all done it is $70,000 for an entry level fishing boat. Now you could go aluminum for $30,000 with a 115 four stroke and trailer. The building had quite a few 30-42 foot center consoles with triples on them for $550,000-750,000. No real cabin unless you call sleeping with a very small friend and having the toilet next to your head fun. Even if you could step up, if you own an older inboard boat in the 35-45 foot range, you better plan on a significant hair cut. Kids these days are not interested in a larger boat. They want low maintenance, and they want to get where they are going quickly and return and walk away. If you own a 35 foot inboard, you better plan on spending $6,000 a year just so it can sit somewhere occupying space, then add on maintenance, insurance, fuel, oil changes, canvas repairs, etc,etc. How does someone buy an expensive new boat and still have the money to use it. Answer= fat wallet. When I went to the show in the 70's, most of the boats were in reach of most of the attendees. Now I see it as a big jerk off, and so do the salesmen. They can see it in my face- don't waste your time here buddy. Why was it filled with pontoons? That is what is selling and still affordable.
Did anyone see the white Mercruiser racing engine and outdrive on display. Cool dual overhead cam engine that caught my interest. I know what the Chevrolet 572 crate motors sell for, so I asked the Mercruiser rep "let me guess.......$35,000?"
He laughed at me and put his thumb up. "$45,000?" nope "55,000?" Sorry sir you are not even close $100,000 plus $35,000 for the drive. Oh. OK. Anyone that would pay that kind of money for a motor and outdrive is someone who is not caring at all about the money. You can buy a 2500 hp motor and drive from Sterling in Milford, Mi for less than that. $300,000 for a pair plus the boat, motor, trailer, rigging, etc. I am very happy that there are still people in the world able to spend that kind of money because they help keep the economy going. At this show the nice stuff is out of reach, and the aluminum stuff from Wilson and Wonderland has become the price of what used to be the nice stuff. It is still nice to dream, and that is why most people attending the show go. Ok enough, sorry.
Old 03-31-2019, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by jhebert View Post
The problem for the Detroit Boat Show for many years was it was held on the same weekend as the Miami International Boat Show. This conflict guaranteed there would be zero factory people or factory booths at the Detroit show--those folks all go to the Miami show.

If the show has or will soon be moving to a date that does not conflict with the Miami International Boat Show, perhaps the Detroit show will finally get some factory support and factory booths.

The guys with the antique wooden boats were rather antique themselves, so I can imagine that perhaps they don't have the energy any more to bring all those boats to the show.

There are so many pontoon boats because that is the type of boat that sells today.
There is talk of moving the Detroit Boat Show to January since they are moving the North American International Auto Show from January to June starting next year. So far it's just talk. No definite decision has been made.
Old 03-31-2019, 08:26 AM
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Not Talk; Cleveland and Detroit will be running both in mid January next year and we have to be at both; not a great scenario for some dealers; but buyers could go to one show one weekend and the other the next and do some comparison shopping I imagine.
As to types of boats at both shows, the market dictates what we take and right now center consoles, dual consoles, bow riders and pontoons own the market. Cruisers and walkaround fish boats have mostly dried up other than used--and this may well be all price sensitive to some degree. Dealers have to stock what can be sold and the same is true as to what we take to a show. A couple of large builders did whore the cruiser market up for several years and those late model used cruisers are available all over the country at very nice pricing. Add it all up and the boat shows will feature what the market dictates

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