‘Tis the season’ … to buy boats, sporting goods


Indeed it is, but not for receiving gifts, not for giving gifts, not for downing sugar cookies and eggnog, not for all that jingle bell and mistletoe stuff but for boat buying and sport show attending.

That’s what the coming weeks are for.

First up is the best deal-making time of the year, the Cleveland Boat Show, correctly titled the Mid-America Boat Show, arguably the largest and best consumer show nationally for avid boaters and wanna-be boaters.

Get the details

The five day show runs Jan. 16 – 20, 2014 at the massive IX Center next door to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Hours and other details including instructions for buying discount tickets are found online.

Any search engine will get you to the website by typing in Cleveland Boat Show 2014. Be sure to add the date when searching or you may end up attending on the wrong dates.

Most boat shows are just that, shows where folks go to kick tires and drool. The Cleveland Boat Show is nothing like that; it is designed for dealers to present new products for sale at prices adorned with rebates, special discounts and buyer incentives.

Without argument, the show is built around buyer advantages, offered well in advance of boating weather and about the time winter-weary families are thinking about a better and warmer season to come.

The real deal

Is the promise of good deals just hype? Not at all. Factories are poised to start building, rebates are at their highest, and dealers are anxious to start their year off with a bang. It’s that simple and obvious to shoppers who are ready to float away in a shiny new boat.

What about a trade-in? After all, the old beater is stored away and out of sight. Buyers who intend to trade should go to the show prepared. Recent pictures, hour meter readings — those sort of condition indicators help dealers establish a fair price for a trade.

If pictures are possible, shoot the inside and outside of the boat, the trailer, seats, covers, motor and outdrive. Dealers will trade sight unseen but be fair and honest to eliminate any problems later.

Other shows

The annual Sport and Travel Expo sometimes referred to as the Clevel,and Outdoor Adventure Show produced by Erie Productions, will share the IX Center with the Boat Show and combo tickets will be offered.

This show replaced the long-time Sport Show a few years ago and has become a well-attended and well-received outdoor show with plenty of interesting exhibits, travel opportunities and more. Keep in mind Scouts are free.

Another popular late winter attraction is the Hunting and Fishing Show held at the Eastwood Mall Expo Center in Niles. Show dates are Feb. 28 through March 2.

One year ago the wheels fell off of the huge Harrisburg, Pa Outdoor Show, a sport show that dwarfed nearly every other similar event.

After the foreign-based producer of the show imposed strict limits on the type and style of firearms allowed to be displayed at the show (a venue largely supported by shooters, hunters, and other gun owners), many major exhibitors pulled out, and in less time than it takes to read this, the show imploded like fallen birthday cake, canceling the show just days before the planned opening.

Fortunately, Harrisburg’s loss, along with that of tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts,  has turned into a gain with an all new show sponsored and produced by some of the country’s most recognizable names.  The NRA, Cabelas and the Outdoor Channel are just a few.

Already, nearly 1,000 venders are committed and it wouldn’t be surprising to see even more by show time.

The new show, a Great American Outdoor Show, will fill 650,000 square feet and run Feb. 1-9. This show should rank as a bucket list item for sportsmen. Go to GreatAmericanOutdoorShow.org for more information


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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