Hi gang, Rick Ostler here from Used Pontoon Boats. Minnesota's love affair with boats is alive and well, and it's coming at a lower price these days thanks to the tepid economy, the weak dollar and the price of gas.
Minnesota Used Boat Auction
Crystal-Pierz Marine held its first-ever used-boat auction a few weeks ago at Minneapolis Auto Auction in Maple Grove. Luke Kujawa, president and chief operating officer of Crystal-Pierz, said he organized the auction in part to scare up some enthusiasm for boating in a soft economy and to loosen up a tight market for used boats.
These days, many of the used boats from Minnesota are being sold to Canadians because of the weak dollar, he said. Still, "there's lots of people looking for used boats," he said.
In 2005, Minnesota had the fourth-highest number of pleasure-boat registrations of any state. But after increasing by 10,000 to 20,000 annually since the mid-1990s, the number -- 853,500 in 2005 -- has remained flat in recent years, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
"The market's been soft," Kujawa said. "We track the housing industry pretty closely."
He said he wanted to create an event that would bring some of the old boats floating around Minnesota under the same roof with the people who might want them. Folks could eat a hot dog and unload their old or seldom-used boats for a little cash, and boat dealers could clean out their inventory. Crystal-Pierz earned a 10 percent fee on each boat sold, or $250 for boats that were not sold because they didn't get the minimum bids set by the owners.
All of that was on display Sunday morning as the first of about 150 boats rolled through as an auctioneer either sang their praises or poked fun at their unique charms to a crowd of about 300 people.
"What color are you calling that?" auctioneer Gary Dehler asked about an old yellow fishing boat that had seen better days. "Mustard? Is that what that is?"
The first to go was an old aluminum Crestliner fishing boat. "I have no doubt you can catch crappies out of that," said Dehler. "I'll take anything."
Sold -- for $500.
Bennington pontoon boat sold for $11,250.
A 2005 Bennington pontoon boat had been used as a rental. The market value, Kujawa told the crowd of stone-faced Minnesotans looking for deals, was $18,500.
Sold -- for $11,250.
George Kiffmeyer's old Alumacraft fishing boat with a Johnson engine sold for $2,800.
"That was right on the money," said Kiffmeyer, 45, of Clear Lake. He decided to sell it because the price of gas in Canada, where he goes fishing four times a year, was killing him, he said. Last year Canadian marinas were selling gas for $6 a gallon, and he expects it to be twice that this year. He'll switch to a couple of smaller boats he keeps on his property in Canada.
A brand-new 2001 Fisher with Mercury 175 motor was worth $19,000, Kujawa told the crowd.
"This is a smokin' deal," Dehler said to encourage hands to go up. "Sold for $12,000."
"Whew, my hand is shaking," said the boat's new owner, Scott Miller, 41, as he signed paperwork after the bidding. He bought it to go fishing with his 13-year-old son, Tony, adding: "It's a steal. I saved a lot on it."
Pritesh Ubad, 31, bought his first boat -- a 1994 turquoise-and-white SeaRay inboard runabout worth about $13,000 -- for only $7,500. He had some help. Wes Schreiber, who works as a salesman for Crystal-Pierz, coached him on which boat to buy and on the bidding.
Ubad, who is from Nepal, said he had been looking for a used boat for about three weeks. A huge smile split his face as he walked around his new toy in the cold sunshine. He said he plans to take his wife and daughter boating on Lake Minnetonka.
"She wanted a boat more than I did," he said of his wife.
The auction wrapped up late in the afternoon.
"It went great," Kujawa said. "I would say, 100 boats sold. A little warmer weather would have helped, but everybody was happy."
Thanks to JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY, Star Tribune for this
Josephine Marcotty• 612-673-7394
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
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