LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — Local demand for boats started last year during the pandemic. But from the looks of it, the surge of buyers hasn’t died down.
We spoke with local boat shop owners who say they’ve been reeling in customers for months.
“Multiple calls a day. We’re moving boats in and out of the dealership, new ones and pre-owned at an almost record pace,” said Angler’s Edge owner A.J. Dilonardo.
Dilonardo says local demand for boats started surging this time last year when many typical warm-weather activities were limited by COVID.
“This whole pandemic, and spending more time with the family, and only being able to do so outdoors has really driven people to the marine industry,” said Dilonardo.
“I see that it’s kind of really carried over into this year. Even busier than it was last year, I think, to be honest with you,” added Brandon Jack, the general manager of Loves Park Motorsports.
Jack says Memorial Day is typically the kickoff to the busy sales season but this year customers started calling long before the summer months.
“We had 85% of our order was sold before March 31st, which has never happened for us,” said Jack. “Until Memorial Day, until this last week, we didn’t have anything in here. We finally got a couple of boats in last week- otherwise, our showroom would look pretty empty.”
Production delays in different parts of the country are also contributing to difficulties in keeping inventory up.
“Our biggest challenge has been supplier upkeep on both the boat side and the parts side,” Dilonardo explained.
If you’re one of those looking for a new way to ride the Rock River, Jack says it is important to be aware that the market is hot.
“If you find something that you like, I would say act pretty quick. If you don’t buy it, somebody, the next person will. It’s not like there’s a great surplus of product out there,” he added.
Jack says the increased demand isn’t limited to boats. Other watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners are also going fast.