Local News

Boat Sales Propped Up by COVID-19

(New Buffalo, MI) - Some people choosing not to travel because of the health risk posed by COVID-19 are purchasing boats this year as a safer getaway alternative. That’s according to Bob Stratton, owner of Service 1 Marine on Indiana 39 near the Michigan line.


Stratton said his boat sales are “probably double what they were last year at this time.” He said life on the water despite the economic crisis triggered by the virus is more possible in some cases this year from lower boat prices and people with disposable income having extra money they would normally spend on vacation.


“People want to social distance on a boat.  They’re not really wanting to fly right now,” said Stratton, who started the business outside New Buffalo about 30-years ago. On the flip side, though, some of his winter storage customers still had boats in his yard from deciding not to hit the water this year due to financial strain caused by the virus and the season getting off to a late start.


Motorboats in Michigan were not allowed to hit the water until April 24 when Governor Gretchen Whitmer lifted her COVID-19 ban on using the gasoline-powered vessels.

Stratton said the ban kept some boats from getting docked before Memorial Day because of the amount of time storage yards need to reach all customers wanting on the water.

He said some of his customers just recently ordered their boats out of storage when the harbors in Chicago closed at the start of the pandemic reopened in the middle of June.

Those customers like to dock in Chicago for a while before returning to Michigan City and New Buffalo. “For the most part, everybody is going in,” he said.


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