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A house divided is wrong

Whatís happening in Charleston, S.C., is wrong. Itís wrong for the local dealers. Itís wrong for the trade association. Itís wrong for the area boaters.

Iím referring to the recent announcement that the South Carolina Marine Association (SCMA) will hold its 8th annual South Carolina In-Water Boat Show at St. Johns Yacht Harbor near downtown Charleston. For 5 years, the show had been held at Brittlebank Park in downtown Charleston. But the parkís land would flood if it rained so, in response to exhibitors, SCMA has moved the show to 3 different locations in the last 3 years to take advantage of new marinas just completed, but not yet fully occupied.

SCMA is working on a permanent home which, hopefully, will be locked in by 2008. Meanwhile, the Association has done a good job of finding a way to maintain an important show for the area.

But southern-style respect seems to have gone out with the Ashley River tide.

Along has come one of SCMAís members, The City Marina Co. It announced it will produce a competing boat show the week after the SCMA show. According to SCMA president Rick Griffin and executive director Suzi DuRant, an August meeting with City Marina representatives to express the negative impacts the proposed show would have on SCMA was to be followed up with further discussions. No second meeting has been held to date.

†The coastal South Carolina market is a good one, but itís definitely not large enough to support two in-water boat shows in as many weeks. If the two shows are held as announced the best each will do is a split of the probable audience, meaning both shows will fail!† With the boating industry continuing to experience declining sales (South Carolina included) itís wrong to have a divided house in Charleston. Itís wrong to expect area dealers to support two failures. And†itís wrong to confuse the areaís boaters.

Thereís even more at stake.

The SCMA is doing a very credible job of representing the marine industry in the public policy arena. This year, for example, it†convinced the Legislature to pass a reduction in property taxes on boats. Itís the boat show proceeds that provide most of the funding for SCMAís programs. Itís wrong for a member of SCMA to pursue a competing boat show that would, in effect, cripple the Association.

Itís time for The City Marina, under the leadership of Robbie Freeman, a highly respected Charleston businessman, to step up and bring the Charleston area marine industry together behind one event, the SCMA boat show.

Itís the right thing to do.


3 comments on “A house divided is wrong

  1. jack

    As a Charleston Native, and an avid fan of boating in general it seems that this article is biased and is attempting to promote SCMA as the only in water show that should be held. This is wrong! If there were no interest in the City Marina Show it simply would not be an issue. So instead of trying to blow this out of proportion, let’s think about the issues that prompted City Marina to have it’s on show.

    Has SCMA overstepped its bounds on rates? Or has it aquired a negative attitude to local dealers and members, or out of area exhibitors? Is the show excluding non members from representation? Also is SCMA being viewed as a group that is not paying enough attention to local issues with boating interests? There could be many reasons, just don’t take southern hospitality for stupidity and assume we are just spiteful and want to do our own thing. Again if there no exibitors willing to promote the City Marina Show then SCMA would not be crying foul. If the dates are too close then SCMA shoul move to later in the year. August or September would be a good starting point. Sales always slow down right before the season ends in these months.

  2. Barton Holmes

    We have a similar scenario going in Jacksonville,FL. We have an April in-water show that is 10 years old and has been growing every year, and now Show Management is planning to do another show in St. Augustine, only 40 mile away, two weeks after the Jax show. It turns out that Show Management tried to buy the Jax show from the promoter but the promoter didn’t want to sell. Our clients expect to see us at local shows, so now it seems that we are stuck with two expensive shows in within two weeks of one another. This, of course, can only last a year or two before the dealers decide which show to give their support and the other show dies. The problem I have with all this is that this “competition” is funded on the backs of the local marine industry at a time that it can least afford to throw away money on duplicated effort.

  3. Pete Peterson

    As a former concert promoter, I believe that dealers need to stand up and say, hey no attendance no pay. If you are going to call yourself a promoter you better put attendance first and not rely on the revenue earned from space rental. If you can’t bring people to the event then you are a flea market owner. Promote the event in a way to bring the people back. Eliminate the need for four or five shows in a market during the year. Ideally there should be one, at most two shows in each market, that people look forward to attending to see what’s new and exciting. As a concert promoter, my inventory was the seats I had to sell. If I didn’t sell enough to cover the costs I lost. Show Promoters should be required to at least say I will deliver X number of people to earn this rate. Dealers need to tell them we are coming because we need to reach as many people as possible, but if no one comes, whose at fault. Not me, I paid for your talent and plan to bring people to the event. As the famous Earl Butts would say “Wake Up America!”

    Pete Peterson
    World Cat

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