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Buying a Boat at a Boat Show vs. a Dealer

Which One is Best?

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Conventional boat buying wisdom dictates that the best deals can be found at boat shows, right? After all, the boats are there for the taking and all the prices are slashed to rock bottom prices. While it may seem that buying a boat at a boat show is better than buying from a dealer, in this instance, conventional wisdom does not hold true.

According to Frank Vander Horst of Maximo Marine, a dealer in St. Petersburg, FL., the best prices are not found at boat shows. On the contrary, if a buyer is looking for the best deal, he encourages them to visit him at his dealership. The reason is, most dealers, Frank included, pay tens of thousands of dollars just for the space to show their boats. This doesn't include the transportation costs, not to mention the headache of hauling boats back and forth. The dealers have to recoup their costs somehow, so it gets passed on to boat show consumers.

One exception to this rule may be the last day of the boat show. Some good boat show tips include waiting until the last day of the boat show to make an offer. A few boat buyers say that dealers are more anxious to sell, and are therefore more willing to cut prices. This tactic may pay off most if you have done your boat show homework ahead of time, and know what is a really good price to offer a dealer.

Other boat buyers suggest writing down boat show prices and later visit the dealer. They may be able to take a lesser price than at the boat show because they aren't attempting to recoup the cost. Certainly, the dealers I came across always prefer to have customers visit their boat dealership because they can build a relationship with them and cater to their specific needs. In the long haul, this may pay the biggest dividend when considering the total cost of owning a boat.

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