Boat show lands sales

Annual trade show paves way for future sales

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Pete Bernstein will be a busy man this week.

The owner of Alaska Ship Chandlers will spend hours moving boats into Centennial Hall for the annual Glacier Valley Rotary Boat Show. Then he'll spend days cleaning and readying the boats for display.

"It is not cheap and it takes a tremendous amount of work," Bernstein said.

But it is worth it.

"A significant portion of our sales are made at the boat show," said Bernstein, who will have 15 boats, including inflatables and dinghies, at the show.

"The whole idea is the opportunity to show and sell new boats" and their accessories, said David Summers, chairman of the boat show for the Glacier Valley Rotary. Summers said he expects about 2,700 people to attend the organization's main fund-raiser.

Kent Fagerstrom is also at the show to sell boats, though he hasn't sold one of his Nordic Tugs there yet, he said.

"The important thing to us is to get information out," he said.

Fagerstrom may sell one of the $200,000-plus boats later in the year because of the boat show, he said, but he will book some charters at this weekend's event.

"It's a good way to fill up the calendar," he said.

Not everyone at the show is there to sell boats or marine gear.

Gordon Shepro wants to fix your back. The chiropractor sells cushions to people who need a little back support on their boats, but is there mostly to provide information.

Boat show

at a glanceWhen: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Centennial Hall.

Admission: $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12.

"There's still only a small percentage of people that see chiropractors," he said, and meeting one can allay some people's fears. The idea for being in the boat show came from time spent in Petersburg, he said.

"I used to treat a lot of fishermen down in Petersburg," Shepro said.

The Rotary's boat show is one of dozens of conventions, consumer and trade shows in Alaska every year. Business at such events can come directly from sales at the show or much later in the year after people have time to think about a purchase.

Being in a consumer or trade show depends on several factors, said Lyn Whitley of the First National Bank of Anchorage's marketing department. Who is coming and what are they looking for - as well as who the other vendors are - factor in on the decision to show up at the roughly 25 consumer and trade shows the bank attends a year, she said. First National does get business from individual shows, but an exact amount is difficult to determine, she said. Most people don't buy big-ticket items because of affordability and time needed to consider the purchase.

"You don't go to a home show to buy a home," Whitley said. "Usually the need for a customer is for information."

Whitley said a general rule is that service businesses such as banks provide information while retail companies are looking for sales.

For the Alaska State Employee Federal Credit Union, the results are more tangible. The boat show directly accounts for business, though the credit union didn't want to say how much, said Nicole Hartman, marketing director.

The credit union traditionally has had better luck with the local boat show than the home show, she said. The Home Builders Association of Juneau's home show is the next major show in Juneau on March 17 and 18 in Centennial Hall. Hartman said last year's Juneau boat show was the credit union's most successful.

Boating isn't the only water recreation represented at the show. Juneau's two dive shops will also be set up.

This is Channel Dive Center's 13th year in the boat show.

"It's a great draw," said owner John Lachelt. He has been in other shows around town, but the Rotary is the big event of the year for them.

"We sell a pretty good amount of gear," Lachelt said. Channel Dive books a fair amount of business for its diving classes at the show too, he said.

The show also serves as a place to market Remote Operated Vehicles to people who may never step into his shop. ROVs are small, remote-controlled submarines with cameras mounted in them. The 8-pound submersibles have a variety uses including looking at shipwrecks, he said.

Mike Hinman can be reached at

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