As Wednesdays rare snow turned to slush, some Midlands residents were dreaming of spring.
Many of them are longing for warm days on the lake or at the coast in their own boat.
So far this year, boat sales are up as much as 25 percent over last year at some of the shows around the region, said Craig Stukes, a spokesman for Ray Klepper Boating Center in Irmo.
That boat dealer will join 17 others at the Columbia Boat Show, Feb. 7 to 9 at the State Fairgrounds, to show off the latest watercraft to Midlands mariners.
The early results on the early shows is everything is positive, the recession is over and everythings rebounding, Stukes said. Do I think its going to be a banner year? Probably not. But Im cautiously optimistic.
Columbias boat sales community was just beginning to recover from several major Lake Murray drawdowns that had impacted boating for several years running when the economy plunged into the Great Recession.
We were gearing up for everything bouncing back and then, wham, you get hit with the recession, Stukes said. Its been a while since everythings been outstanding, but everybodys plugging along.
The most popular boats so far this year have been pontoons and small runabouts from roughly 17- to 23-feet long, Stukes said. The market for cruisers is not great, he said, but there are indications that deck boats could make a comeback.
This years show will feature about 40 percent more dealers than the show did two years ago, Stukes said. In addition to a range of boats, patrons can expect a variety of vendors, food trucks and a childrens play area.
Even though theres still snow on the ground, this is the time of year consumers typically start looking for a boat if they are in the market, Stukes said. Thats because if they want to order a boat that is not in stock, it will take a couple of months for it to arrive, he said.
Its good that it snowed this week, and its supposed to be 70 degrees (next) Saturday, Stukes said.
If you go
What: Columbia Boat Show 2014
When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 7, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 9
Where: State Fairgrounds, Assembly Street at Rosewood Drive
Cost: $8, adults; free, children 12 and under; parking, $2
More information: Columbiaboatshow.com