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Old 31-08-2015, 15:40   #1
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Boat show buying tactics?

Deb and I have made great progress in the rebuild of our 1968 Tartan 34c.
We are now looking to purchase standing rigging, and sails for the main and roller furler. We plan to bring our specs to the Annapollis boat show next month and make some purchases. Does anyone have practical experience for getting the best price? Does waiting until the last day of the show effect pricing?
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Old 31-08-2015, 16:16   #2

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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

You can sometimes get good deals on the stuff they have on display the last day but not on sails and standing rigging. They might have "boat show" prices though.

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Old 31-08-2015, 16:58   #3
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

The Annapolis show is a big one for the industry. I would allow enough time so that if you need to make an appointment that you can stick around. I worked some boat shows, and everybody wants your time, both serious customers and tire kickers. Depending on the vendor, they may comp you tickets if you have to come back another day. Guy is right, if it a piece of hardware the really don't want to ship back to California, you possible could get a deal. Special order stuff may be subject to Boat show special, or winter is coming. It is a great way to compare products, especially when you demonstrate you are a serious customer.
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Old 31-08-2015, 17:28   #4
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

You are in pa, call sailcare. If they are going to be in Annapolis , he will even give you tickets , and you will get a discount for ordering at the show.

Regardless of the show, his service /pricing can't be beat .

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Old 31-08-2015, 17:34   #5
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

Concur that you won't get anything other than "show pricing" for custom work of any sort. The only deals to be had are on gear that vendors have in excess inventory.

We did negotiate $20K off our current boat (the demo hull) at a boat show. Problem is when they said yes to my low-ball offer, I felt obligated to buy it :-)
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:42   #6
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

I would create the longest list of desired products that a vendor is likely to have. You may not be able to get an inverter and a storm jib from the same outfit, but you will be able to get many of your items from major retailers. I would give them a list with a desired delivery date, make sure tax and shipping are included (if needed), and drop the list off with as many first as possible. Some of the larger hardware items may be someone short on the discount since the dealer gets less GM%. So, if it's a 35% item, you might be able to get 20% off. Maybe.

I would also give them a due date, and make sure they know they only get one shot. No negotiation. However, they may not be able to get one or two items, and that's OK.


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Old 01-09-2015, 13:06   #7
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

Bacon Sails & Marine Supplies

While you are at the boat show, take a few moments and go to Bacon Sails in Annapolis to see what they can do for you.
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Old 01-09-2015, 13:19   #8
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

The "last day of the show deals" are only on stuff left in the booth that they don't want to ship to the next show. If you see anything in a booth on the last date that you want, even a folding chair, make an offer. Remember, you have to take it with you and you'll pay Maryland sales tax.

The best time to buy sails is in the winter when sail makers are often looking at an empty loft floor. First couple of weeks of January are ideal. Get quotes from multiple lofts.

A sail that loses it's shape or delaminates in two years is a very expensive sail. And this is not an uncommon life for today's sails. When your Tartan was built, sails could be expected to last 10 years. Not true today. I'd go to each sailmaker at Annapolis and say you want a 10 year sail. Be sure to talk to Mack Sails. Many happy customers including me.

As to riggers. Get local recommendations. And do you really want the cheapest possible rigging keeping the mast up? You'd think that you could mail your old standing rigging and get back new rigging that fits. Nope. As you've probably learned during your refit, boats are different.
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Old 01-09-2015, 13:41   #9
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

I got a great price on an engine hoist, buying the display model on the final day of the show. Some deals are out there.

Buying sails is different, particularly due to trying to make an "apples to apples" comparison. There are simply too many places where a loft can cut corners, no matter how tightly you think your request for bids has been written.

Frankly, the pursuit of the lowest price has caused many of the better lofts to disappear, allowing mostly Asian lofts to survive.

If you can find a local loft that builds for cruisers (as opposed to racers), has a track record, and truly listens to your needs, you are better off going with them, rather than seeking builders by price alone. They will know if you need triple stitching (and where), tighter cloth weave rather than highly resinated, how far to extend reinforcement, etc.

With sails, you may not get what you paid for, but you will surely pay for what you get. Good luck!
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Old 01-09-2015, 17:25   #10

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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

Oddly enough some merchants feel they will have a better selling day after they have made the FIRST sale of the day. Tradition from the shouks of the Middle East thousands of years ago.

So it may be worth showing up first thing in the morning and trying to remind the guy, this will be his first sale of the day, and that's good way to start a show.
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Old 01-09-2015, 17:36   #11
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

If you want to get a good deal at the boat show, just be nice to us. The vast majority of us are not used car salesmen but sailors too.

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Old 01-09-2015, 17:51   #12
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Re: Boat show buying tactics?

Thanks for all the input. Please don't confuse looking for the best value for looking for cheap. The best quality at the price I can afford will get me, and keep me cruising again. I really like the idea of buying in the winter when shops are slow. I have left some money at Bacons from time to time. Thanks again to all...

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