Interesting dilemma. Some of these shows are billed as "national" boat shows, yet the majority of vendors - at least in the tents - are local or regional companies. Small ones at that. Owned by boaters first and business people second. While some of the biggest names in the industry have been and are currently struggling, a lot of the "independent dealers" are even worse off (not all, but it's not uncommon for the small guys feeling the pinch before the big guys do). I liken the boating industry to the home construction/remodeling industry: full of guys who wouldn't cut it very well with real jobs. I know I'm generalizing, but customer service and follow through are not the strong suits of either industry. That's why the NMMA did so much work the last few years educating and certifying members in regard to customer service and follow through. Now for those of you in the industry that do a good job fulfilling orders and taking care of customers, I'm not picking on you. It's just that petingras' experiences are unfortunately not that uncommon.
Sailingdog was right - you have to be careful who you buy from, especially at a boat show. Some vendors spend so much money getting the space and inventory there, a bad show can really hurt them. Many of them are under a lot of pressure to "make a killing" during a show...
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"Always approach the dock at the speed you wish to hit it."
1978 North Sea 33 Pilothouse Cutter (Ta Chiao)