Jersey show will focus on serious buyers

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New venture by some Garden State dealers hopes to capitalize on a small and intimate presentation

A new powerboat show in Cape May, N.J., is making every boat available for sea trials — something virtually unheard of at a typical show.

The in-water show, Strictly Jersey, will take place May 1 through 3 at the South Jersey Marina, with up to 50 new boats in 20 different models available for sea trials, according to show manager Mark Allen.

“We’re not going to tell the dealers what to do, but we want to make the option of a sea trial available to them and the buyers,” says Allen.

“MarineMax will have the largest presence at this show,” says Scott Harvey, store manager for MarineMax in Somers Point, N.J. “The availability of the test drive was a big draw for us. … It’s great. [The show] is geared more toward the boat buyers, not people just looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon.”

MarineMax will be bringing six boats from their four lines of Bertram, Cabo, Hatteras and Sea Ray.

Show organizers are asking dealers to schedule sea trials first thing in the morning or at day’s end to cut down on the potential boat traffic, Allen says. However, a serious customer could potentially sea-trial a boat at any time, he says.

The idea behind Strictly Jersey is to create an environment where it’s as easy as possible to connect sellers with serious buyers. To that end, organizers are offering free admission to anyone with a New Jersey state boating certificate, as well as people with a Sea Tow membership. Dealers are also being given tickets to hand out to their customers. Allen hopes this will make Strictly Jersey a show about boat sales, not ticket sales.

“We want to drive these people who are experienced boaters to the show; it’s not about making a profit at the gate,” says Allen. “All others will have to pay $15.”

Jason Cavaleri, sales manager at Green Cove Marina in Brick, N.J., says they were attracted by the new, smaller approach Strictly Jersey is taking.

“It’s local, so it keeps our costs down,” says Cavaleri, who will be bringing three Jupiter fishing boats. “But it’s also something different and new, and we were willing to check it out.”

Allen says South Jersey Marina, which sells new Albemarle, Ocean Yachts, and Viking Yachts, was prompted to organize the show because they got tired of the high cost of attending large-scale shows and having more people being there for sightseeing than buying.

“We decided, why not have our own?” says Allen.

As of early March, the show has 10 dealers and manufacturers and expects seven more.

“We have everything from trawlers to sportfishing models,” says Allen. “Cape May is a big fishing town …  We were open to sailboat dealers, and a few showed interest, but it ended up being a powerboat show by the nature of the area.”

Visit www.southjerseymarina.com.

This article originally appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Home Waters Section of the May 2009 issue.